Cabinet approves draft resolution allowing photography in Egypt’s public places without permit

Nevine El-Aref , Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Jul 2022

The Egyptian Cabinet agreed on Wednesday a draft resolution allowing locals and foreigners to take photos and record videos in public places for non-commercial purposes without a permit.

 Egyptian public places
A visitor takes a photo of the Sphinx in northern Egypt's Giza governorate. Press photo


The regulatory draft resolution affirms that photography for personal use using any type of camera is allowed in public places free of charge and without the need to obtain a permit, a statement by the Cabinet read.

However, cinematography, TV photography, and taking photos or filming for documentaries or commercial, professional, and conversational purposes still require permits.

Shooting for journalistic, media, advertising, and professional purposes also require permits, according to the Cabinet.

In an interview with Al-Hekaya TV programme on MBC Masr on Tuesday, Minister of Tourism Khaled El-Enani said foreign journalists and TV channels will still require permits from the State Information Service (SIS) before shooting.

However, the SIS is the only authority they have to visit as it will finalize all required papers for them, he said.

Concerning cinematic photography, El-Enani said that the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC) is the current authority in charge of issuing permits.

Circumstances requiring permit

The resolution also determined that shooting equipment is not to be used and places where it is prohibited without a permit.

This includes state institutions such as ministries, legislative councils, government facilities, police stations, buildings and sites belonging to the Armed Forces, and other sovereign and security authorities.

This includes professional photography umbrellas, artificial outdoor lighting gear, and equipment that occupies or blocks public roads, according to another Cabinet statement on Wednesday.

The resolution also forbids taking photos of children and affirms that Egyptian citizens can only be photographed after obtaining their written permission.

“It is completely forbidden to take or share photographs of scenes that can, in one way or another, damage the country’s image,” the statement said.

Photography in archaeological sites

Photography at archeological sites under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities for personal use is permitted for Egyptians and tourists in accordance with the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ Board of Directors’ 2019 decision, the statement said.

Taking photos with mobile phones, cameras, and video cameras is allowed inside museums and archaeological sites without using flash indoors, the ministry added.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities also set new regulations for commercial, promotional, and cinematic photography in Egyptian museums and at archaeological sites.

Photography permits (daily, weekly, and monthly) have been implemented as an incentive for producers and companies to film in these areas, the statement said.

These decisions are derived from the efforts of the Ministry to promote cultural tourism and Egypt’s unique civilization and aim to encourage tourist activities in Egypt.

Commercial, cinematic photography

The permit service for commercial and cinematic filming is undergoing its final phase before its release on the Ministry’s official website to be launched soon, the ministry said. The website will include regulations in different languages for taking photographs in public areas.

Although photography in public places is not illegal in Egyptian law except in certain places such as inside and around security and military sites, it still requires a permit.

Over the past years, foreign professional photographers claimed that police prevented them from taking photos or asked them to delete some of their footage.

American vlogger William Sonnebuchner advised against visiting Egypt in a series of videos he posted on YouTube in April, asserting that the police held him back from shooting and seized his equipment.

YouTuber Sonnebuchner, whose Best Ever Food Review Show channel has almost 9 million subscribers, has dubbed Egypt the “worst place to shoot in Africa”.

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