Egypt's government's decision to enforce strict new closing times for shops and restaurants will save the country up to LE6 billion ($1bn) a year in electricity, the trade and industry minister has told Ahram's Arabic-language news website.
The minister, Hatem Saleh, said earlier closing hours for business establishments would reduce their reliance on state-subsidised electricity, in turn benefiting the state budget.
Starting from November, Egypt's shops will have to turn off their lights by 10pm, while cafes and restaurants will have to shut by midnight. Places officially counted as catering for tourists will be exempt, as will pharmacies.
Quoted by Ahram on Sunday, Hatem added that the decision, which has faced objections from business owners, is "bold" and that the time is right to implement it.
But he added that the success of the new intiative would depend on Egyptian consumers changing their decades-long habit of late-night shopping.
Local Development Minister Ahmed Zaki Abdeen warned of harsh penalties for violators but said that business owners who wish to keep their premises open later could apply for a licence from the Ministry of Tourism.