Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking Forward to Egypt 2012

After the events of the last year we are all looking forward to a fresh new Egypt and lots of exciting events in Luxor. We have the lectures back on again. Last week Francesco Tiradritti spoke about the last 15 years at the tomb of Harwa. February sees the Luxor marathon, March the opening of Sphinx Avenue and so it goes on. We are all optimistic about the future especially after having met our new Luxor representative Dr. Abdul Mawgoud Dardery who is so supportive of tourism he went to America in December to promote Luxor. Although Luxor is very quiet, it makes it an excellent time to visit as the sites are not crowded. Looking forward to seeing you in 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Egypt Reverses Duty-Free Alcohol Restrictions

Egypt Reverses Duty-Free Alcohol Restrictions: In the wake of soaring prices on the black market and mounting criticism from the Egypt Free Shops Company and the tourism ministry, the decision to restrict alcohol and cigarette purchases is withdrawn.

On 13 December, Egypt's government decreased the entitlement of duty-free alcoholic beverages from four to one bottle, and of cigarettes from four to one carton, leading to prices on the black market to soar.

"I went to my regular dealer and found out that a whiskey bottle that used to cost around LE300 went up to LE550 or even LE600. The dealer told me he will be raising the price even more," says Ahmed Shawa, a twenty-five year old computer programmer.

Shawa was very displeased with the decision, which he said was taken "just to make an already complicated life even harder".

Egypt's Ministry of Finance has now withdrawn its decision to constrain the sale of alcohol and cigarettes through duty free shops, according to a statement issued by Egypt Free shops Company (EFSCO) and delivered to the stock market.

"The decision was devastating, not only for duty free shops companies, but also for the tourism industry as a whole," says Bahaa Soliman, head of EFSCO.

Soliman explains that many tourists bought their alcohol from the duty-free shops. "The tourists will just go to Israel or any other country that does not impose much restriction on alcohol," he said.

Imported alcoholic beverages are sold at extremely high in Egypt's local markets, as they are burdened with a heavy custom tariff that goes up to 3000 per cent. Accordingly, buying alcohol from free-shops was a sound economical alternative for tourists, as well as Egyptians coming from abroad.

"Ever since the decision to limit purchases, we have been faced with hundreds of angry tourists in our shops. Obviously, the decision was not properly thought through," Soliman adds.

The decision was also slated by tourism officials, and the tourism minister is reported to have interfered to reverse the decision.

The decision caused astonishment across Egypt, especially its timing coming at the start of the Christmas and New Year season.

Some speculated that Egypt's elections, which resulted in an overwhelming win for conservative Islamist parties might have been a factor in the decision to restrict the sale of alcohol. But Soliman says, “I don’t think Islamists had anything to do with the decision. It is just bad administration on the part of the government.”

Prices of alcoholic beverages on the black market are reported to have doubled and even tripled following the ban.

The black market for alcoholic beverages in Egypt is a thriving market, with the locations of dealers in the Cairo districts of Zamalek and Heliopolis well-known amongst those who consume alcohol.

On New Year’s Eve, the Heliopolis street that houses "Albert", a well known grocery shop that illegally sells high-end alcoholic beverages is usually full of young Egyptians, carrying bottles in black plastic bags in broad daylight.

Many of the bottles sold on the black market carry the free-shops sticker.

For their part, Ministry of Finance officials explained that the decision was initially taken to decrease smuggling of custom-free products into the local market.

"If they wanted to combat the black market they could have done it in a million ways without hurting other businesses and sectors,” Soliman says. “Anyway, we are thankful the decision has been revoked.”

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Finance Ministry prohibits selling duty free alcohol, cigarettes outside airports | Al-Masry Al-Youm: Today's News from Egypt

Finance Ministry prohibits selling duty free alcohol, cigarettes outside airports | Al-Masry Al-Youm: Today's News from Egypt:

إحدي متاجر بيع الخمور بوسط القاهرة ، 26 يوليو 2010 .

Photographed by تحسين بكر

Egypt's Finance Ministry has ordered the Egypt Free Shops Company (EFSCO) to stop selling alcohol and cigarettes anywhere other than its branches in Egyptian airports, a company source told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The company source said the decision, which comes days before the celebration of the new year, will grant buyers at the company's outlets in Egyptian airports a customs exemption for one bottle of alcohol and one carton of cigarettes, instead of four of each.

The same source revealed that the new measures have stirred a crisis both in the company and airports, predicting negative repercussions for the company sales.

As part of the new initiative, custom exemptions will also be limited for merchandise and presents brought into the country through airports, the source added.

Alcohol and cigarettes will only be available for buyers in official EFSCO stores upon their arrival at the airport, the source said.

He said that price tags must be placed on items sold at the EFSCO's airport branches to ensure they are not resold outside. The Finance Ministry will provide the company with the price labels, he explained.

Recently authorities at Cairo International Airport have apprehended a number of its workers who have been borrowing the passports of passengers to buy cigarettes and alcohol which they resold to merchants outside of airports in return for hefty sums.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Flats in Luxor - Jane Akshar - Review of Flats in Luxor, Luxor, Egypt - TripAdvisor

Great Review on Trip Advisor. BTW They have changed the rules for owners of businesses and you have to enter a credit card to prove who you are. Flats in Luxor - Jane Akshar - Review of Flats in Luxor, Luxor, Egypt - TripAdvisor: We travelled to Luxor in June, shortly after Egypt’s Arab Spring revolution and stayed one week with Flats in Luxor. We opted for the Al Gezera (West Bank) self-catering apartments for the views over the Theban Hills. At 5am we’d watch balloons sailing over the Hills and in the evening watch the red sun setting behind the Hills, which were then lit up overnight.

The apartments are spacious and comfortable with air conditioned bedrooms and comfortable beds. We always slept well. The summer heat is extreme and can go as high as the 50 degree mark, making a dip in the pool welcome. There’s also a jacuzzi and a roof terrace with pool table, plus 24 hour security. If you’re not eating out that day, it’s easy to order meals. We had several tasty and generously portioned Egyptian meals brought to us from the Goubli restaurant that were set up in the apartment for us.

Jane, her family and Staff are also very accessible and friendly. This makes it easy to book trips; ask anything you want to ask, or have fetched anything you want fetching. For example, we were grateful for the boxes of water brought to us from the village, which we’d have struggled to manage ourselves. If you do want to go into the village, the shop keepers are pleasant and we bought things like fruit and juice without any problems. The village comes alive at night (when it’s coolest) and though it’s safe to walk about, conservative clothing is best.

We booked all our trips through Jane and considered this well worth it. We had the use of a comfortable, air conditioned car with driver and we could go at our own pace and we felt safe with the people who were taking us about Luxor. Also, we felt that our tour guide was a cut above the rest as his knowledge and interest in Ancient Egypt is extensive. This was especially noticeable when we had the chance to listen in to some of the hotel tours doing the rounds, which were variable to say the least.

We experienced a range of tomb and monument tours and excursions, organised through Jane, and the quality and enjoyment was always there. We were never let down and our holiday was truly enjoyable. Particularly notable was our trek up the Theban Hills on a donkey, which I’d recommend as the experience and the views across Hatchepsut’s Temple and the Valleys of the Kings and Queens are stunning, but I’d soaked up far too much sun to fully appreciate the traditional Egyptian breakfast at Ibrahim’s (which is well worth it, especially for the cultural experience).

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Lots of best wishes for the holiday season from all at Flats in Luxor.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dinner on "The Roof" in front of Luxor Temple

I am very fond of Snacktime but had never eaten in the Egyptian restaurant on the roof. The views are even more spectacular than lower down and it is a great place to study the temple in detail. I had the Lamb Chops and the Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream others had the mixed meze salads and the kebabs and we all enjoyed it. Recommended

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Food in Luxor

One of the joys of staying in a self catering villa or Flat in Luxor is the chance to cook with fresh, organic, tasty food. Or not!!! So you can choose to eat out all the time or too cook or a combination of the two. These videos should make your mouth water.

Here is shopping in Luxor

And here is eating in Luxor

Monday, December 05, 2011

A Nubian "Green" Holiday Village in Luxor, Egypt - Green 2b

A Nubian "Green" Holiday Village in Luxor, Egypt - Green 2b: Villas in Luxor from Flats in Luxor, the perfect holiday escape experts.

Its creators aimed at constructing a Nubian village in the 21st century, respecting the local architecture and the natural environment.

Thus, the one bedroom villas are set amidst newly planted fruit trees and a thriving vegetable plot which supplies the complex's restaurant, and they were built by craftsman from Edfu with traditional domes and arches.

The accommodation consists of a large main room or studio with a double bed and dining area followed by a wet room with shower, toilet and wash hand basin and a small kitchen. Outside a shady veranda overlooks the Theban Hills. Stairs lead to the roof, perfect for bird watching and star gazing, just one mile away from the Nile!

Residents of the village have access to a swimming pool, children's pool, library, free Internet and restaurant.

As Jane Akshar, co-owner of the complex says "Looking for that hassle free holiday, want to help the local economy, need a more adult environment then our villas could be perfect for you. A hotel room with a kitchen set in lush grounds, admist the local Egyptian village. Within view of historical sites like the temple of Hatshepsut. This is what Egypt is all about!"

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

March Madness from Flats in Luxor

March is my birthday and I want to spread some Egyptian holiday fun. Want a great Luxor holiday bargain? Let us match any Luxor self catering flat offer for the month of March. Yes that is right, send us details of any offer you have had and we will match the price. Don't forget we are the only Luxor flats with a swimming pool so you get better accommodation for the same price. To get this great Egyptian holiday offer for a spring break in Egypt, please quote MM2012. Email us