In the countdown to COP27 Sharm El-Sheikh has been the scene of frenzied activity, with 30 national projects expected to be completed within the next few days.
The projects, says Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, include the construction of a bridge on the King Salman Road, the construction of five transverse axes linking Al-Salam, King Salman, and the Ring Road, the construction of the municipal management unit for Sharm El-Sheikh, a central park, a commercial mall, a complex for banks, the construction of a veterinary hospital, a heritage village, the upgrading of the international camel track in the safari area, the beautifying and cultivating of main roads and the construction of three solar power stations alongside garaging for electric buses.
Work is also continuing on developing the commercial market area, including the installation of electric car charging points.
A new smart taxi system is also being established. The city, says Fouda, now has 717 taxis with a tracking system and an internal camera inside each car.
During the conference period, 260 gas and electric buses will roam Sharm El-Sheikh, producing zero emissions and offering passengers Internet access.
Taxis and buses will help transport visitors from their hotels to conference areas that include the Blue Zone, a complex that includes a state-of-the-art conference hall that will serves as a model for sustainable environmental compatibility complete with logistical, technical, and technological features.
The Green Zone, located nearby, will serve as a platform for the business community, youth, women, civil society, residents, academia, artists and the fashion community from different countries.
Hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh are preparing to host more than 30,000 visitors expected to arrive in the city for COP27. Hakan Kaynakci, regional director of sales and marketing at Rixos hotels, hotels in the Red Sea resort are becoming greener as part of Sharm El-Sheikh’s development efforts.
“We have been reducing the use of plastics, installing solar panels, collecting bio waste and sending it to companies for recycling,” he said.
“Rixos will be opening a new golf resort, with 102 villas, adding to our two hotels in the city since we anticipate that the interest generated by COP27 will continue to attract visitors after the summit ends.”
Kaynakci is not alone in thinking COP27 will lend tourism a boost.
“All involved authorities are joining hands to complete the projects being implemented in Sharm El-Sheikh before the city starts to receive the delegations that will participate in the COP27,” said Sameh Al-Sadat, a member of the Senate’s Economic Committee.
Al-Sadat, who has regularly visited the city in the run-up to the summit, says ongoing work on Sharm El-Sheikh’s infrastructure meets stringent green criteria and that the event will position Egypt at the heart of the world’s shift to a greener economy.
“COP 27 will bring new types of tourists to Egypt. We need to capitalise on the conference to market tourism in Egypt, one of the safest destinations to visit in the world,” he said.
Given that security and stability are essential to attracting tourism and investments to Egypt, Fouda said particular attention had been paid to consolidating security systems across South Sinai in general, and in Sharm El-Sheikh in particular. The city now has a new Security Monitoring Centre of 5,000 square metres.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 October, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.