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Egypt imposes security measures on foreign travel for citizens

Egyptian males between the ages of 18-40 require security approval prior to visiting a number of countries including Turkey and Qatar
Vendors and visitors stand in front of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on 25 November, 2014 (AFP)

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior has issued a decision that citizens choosing to visit a number of specific countries must obtain security clearances before their travels.

Last week, the Ministry of Interior’s spokesperson Hani Abdel-Latif told the Anadolu Agency that the Egyptian government was not banning young men from visiting Turkey without prior security approval.

 “There is no need for youth to get prior approval from security agencies before travelling to these states,” he stated.

“There is no credence to rumours that Egyptian youths are being prevented from travelling to either Turkey or any other country,” he said.

However, a few days later he admitted that the security clearance policy was already in effect, although he did not specify how long it had existed. Abdel-Latif described the security measure as a “routine measure aimed at preserving national security at the current stage.”

The decision is targeted at males between the ages of 18-40, who must be approved by the Ministry’s Homeland Security Department.

Male travellers are now required to submit their papers to the Ministry for security clearance if they want to travel to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Qatar.

These measures do not apply to Egyptians who hold residencies in these countries, businessmen, official delegations, and those married to people with foreign nationality.

As a result, some of Egypt’s travel agencies have cancelled trips to Turkey, citing that the decision had come during the tourist high season without previous warning.

Relationships between Egypt and Turkey have plummeted following the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in the summer of 2013. Turkish officials have described the ouster as a “military coup” which has angered Egyptian officials in turn.

In October, Egypt decided not to renew a free trade agreement it had signed with Turkey in 2012, citing “economic reasons.” The agreement enabled Turkey to use Egypt’s ports to pass its products to the markets in the Gulf countries.

A boycott of Turkey as a tourist destination was called for by various Egyptian media personalities and the head of Egypt’s Tourist Guides Union Bassem Halaqa in September. Halaqa claimed that the boycott was a form of supporting the Egyptian national economy and tourism.

According to Turkey’s Tourism Ministry, the number of Egyptian tourists to Turkey this year fell between January and April by 7,000 compared to the same period in 2013. The ministry added that in the same period, 10,600 Turkish tourists visited Egypt this year, compared to 25,289 last year.

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