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Saudi businessman said to be in talks over $4bn Red Sea tourism project

A Saudi businessman is in talks with Egyptian authorities over a $4 billion tourism resort in Egypt’s Red Sea region of Sharm el Sheikh, Egyptian tourism minister Hisham Zaazou told Saudi newspaper Okaz.

Zaazou declined to name the prospective investor, the newspaper reported on Sunday, but said the project would be the largest resort in the Red Sea town, a popular beach and diving holiday destination.

The minister did not elaborate on what stage these talks were at.

Egypt’s vital tourism industry has suffered from the political instability that followed the uprising against Hosni Mubarak in 2011. It took a further hit after a Russian airliner flying out of Sharm el Sheikh crashed on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.

Russia’s FSB security service has said it is certain a bomb brought down the Airbus jet, a conclusion shared by Britain and the United States. Egypt said earlier this month it has found no evidence so far of terrorism or other illegal action linked to the crash.

Since the crash, some airlines have suspended flights to Sharm el Sheikh for security reasons.

Saudi Arabia, along with Kuwait and the UAE, has invested billions of dollars to support Egypt’s economy and maintain stability since 2011.

Zaazou has said he plans to make up for the loss of international business by encouraging local tourism, largely from wealthy Gulf Arab visitors.

Zaazou said around 450,000 Saudi tourists visited Egypt until November 30 of this year, according to statistics he cited, compared to 400,000 last year.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) said in November it planned to increase the frequency of its flights from the kingdom to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from February 2016.

Kuwait Airways was also due to launch direct flights to Sharm el Sheikh starting on December 1 to support Egypt’s tourism sector, the minister of information was quoted as saying in November.

Source: Arabian Business