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Egyptian fans jubilant over Salah’s goal as Liverpool’s African Stars celebrate UCL win3 min read

Egyptians erupted with joy in unison after Mo’ Salah converted a penalty to open the scoring as early as the second minute in the UCL final.

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Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

Egyptian football fans were overjoyed on Saturday as Liverpool were crowned European champions after winning 2-0 against Tottenham Hotspur. Coming in as favourites, the Reds sealed the win and their sixth Cup in a grinding game after Mohammed Salah and Divock Origi fired home the team’s first and second goal in the 2nd and 87th minute.

Those gathered erupted with joy in unison after Mohamed Salah converted a penalty to open the scoring as early as the second minute. “I’m happy that Salah won because he’s our son,” said Seif Hegi, 21, a university student from Cairo.

“The match was like a typical Premier League game, that was highly defensive…but it’s a huge feat because no other Egyptian footballer has achieved this before,” he said while surrounded by throngs of boisterous fans in a bustling cafe. “This is a positive development for Egyptian soccer,” he added.

In a busy laneway in an upmarket suburb packed with cafes and cacophonous cries from ardent Liverpool fans, some 400 Egyptians cheered loudly with every touch of the ball for national icon Salah. He is due to represent the North African heavyweights in the Africa Cup of Nations later this month.

Sadio Man of Liverpool FC during the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid
Sadio Man of Liverpool FC during the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid, Spain on 1 June 2019. (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto)

‘You’ll never eat alone’

In anticipation of the final, other Egyptians paid tribute to the Reds feasting at the “Liverfuul” cart which serves up hot dishes of “fuul” (fava beans) in Ain Shams, a working-class suburb of Cairo.

Mohamed Ahmed, 31, a DJ turned street food entrepreneur, came up with the idea with friend Mohamed al-Sayed before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of daytime fasting due to end next week.

The cart, which only operates between 11 pm and 3 am, is emblazoned with Sayed’s red and green design – after the Liverpool football club logo. Liverpool’s legendary anthem has been amended on the cart to read: “You’ll never eat alone.”

“There’s no one who doesn’t love Salah. We’re avid football fans so the idea clicked one day while we were sitting around, and the response has been huge from the locals,” he narrated. “As Egyptians, we like to get together, especially during Ramadan, and have a communal meal. So the tagline came naturally and Sayed designed it perfectly.”

Ahmed Adel, a 25-year-old engineer, spotted photos of the cart on social media in early May and has been a regular customer. He is circled every time by dozens of hungry patrons in a carnival-like atmosphere of loud music and football commentary on flat-screen televisions.

A dish named “Mo Salah” is also on the menu. “The food is great and the atmosphere is friendly,” he said. Ahmed, the food cart operator, said he was happy that his business had become a gathering point for the club’s fans in the capital Cairo.

“I’m a winner either way, it’s not just about money for me,” he said. “The first week of business we were running at a loss, but with word of mouth and social media, it has really picked up,” Adel added.

He was proven right in Liverpool being crowned European champions against first-time finalists Spurs. It came 12 months after they suffered a heartbreaking loss to Real Madrid in last year’s final in which Salah went off injured.

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Former Spanish garrison becomes tourist magnet

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Former Spanish garrison becomes tourist magnet
Kite-surfers manuever their kites at Dakhla beach in Morocco-administered Western Sahara (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

In the heart of Western Sahara, a former garrison town has become an unlikely tourist magnet after kitesurfers discovered the windswept desert coast was perfect for their sport.

In Dakhla, an Atlantic seaport town punctuated with military buildings in Morocco-administered Western Sahara, swarms of kitesurfers now sail in the lagoon daily.

“Here there is nothing other than sun, wind and waves. We turned the adversity of the elements to our advantage: that’s the very principle of kitesurfing,” said Rachid Roussafi. 

After an international career in windsurfing and kitesurfing, Roussafi founded the first tourist camp at the lagoon at the start of the 2000s. 

“At the time, a single flight a week landed in Dakhla,” the 49-year-old Moroccan said.

Today, there are 25 a week, including direct flights to Europe.

“Dakhla has become a world destination for kitesurfing,” said Mohamed Cherif, a regional politician.

Tourist numbers have jumped from 25,000 in 2010 to 100,000 today, he said, adding they hoped to reach 200,000 annual visitors. 

Tourists watch kitesurfers at Dakhla beach in Morocco-administered Western Sahara
Tourists watch kitesurfers at Dakhla beach in Morocco-administered Western Sahara (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

The former Spanish garrison is booming today with the visitor influx adding to fishing and trade revenue.

Kitesurfing requires pricey gear — including a board, harness and kite — and the niche tourism spot attracts well-off visitors of all nationalities. 

Peyo Camillade came from France “to extend the summer season”, with a week’s holiday costing about 1,500 euros ($1,660). 

Only the names of certain sites, like PK 25 (kilometre point 25), ruined forts in the dunes and the imposing and still in-use military buildings in Dakhla, remind tourists of the region’s history of conflict.

In the 1970s, Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, and fought a war with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front from 1975 to 1991, when a ceasefire deal was agreed.

A United Nations mission was deployed to monitor the truce and prepare a referendum on Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco, but it never materialized.

Without waiting for the political compromise that the UN has been negotiating for decades, hotels have sprouted from the sand along the coast, and rows of streetlights on vacant lots announce future subdivisions. 

‘Good communication’ –

“The secret to success is to develop kitesurfing with good communication focused on the organisation of non-political events,” said Driss Senoussi, head of the Dakhla Attitude hotel group. 

Accordingly, the exploits of kitesurfing champions like Brazilian Mikaili Sol and the Cape Verdian Airton Cozzolino were widely shared online during the World Kiteboarding Championships in Dakhla last month.

The competition seemed to hold little interest for Dakhla’s inhabitants however.

Only a few young people with nothing to do and strolling families found themselves on the beach for the finals.

Just as rare are the foreign tourists who venture into the town of 100,000 residents to shop.

A kitesurfer manoeuvring her kite at Dakhla beach in Morocco-administered Western Sahara.
A kitesurfer manoeuvring her kite at Dakhla beach in Morocco-administered Western Sahara. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

Like her friends, Alexandra Paterek prefers to stay at her hotel, some 30 kilometres (19 miles) from downtown. 

“Here is the best place in the world for learning kitesurfing,” said the 31-year-old Polish stewardess. 

On her understanding of the broader regional context, she said: “It’s an old Spanish colony and they have good seafood, for sure.”

Like many tourists, she was under the impression that the area belonged to Morocco, as the destination tends to be marketed in the travel industry as “Dakhla, Morocco”.

That angers the Polisario, which wants independence for the disputed region and tried last year in vain to sue businesses it said were “accomplices to the occupying military power.”

The independence movement is now focused on challenging commercial deals between Morocco and the European Union that involve Western Sahara, according to the group’s French lawyer Gilles Devers.

Moroccan authorities are looking actively for investors for their development projects on the west coast, the most ambitious being the Dakhla Atlantique megaport with a budget of about $1 billion to promote fishing. 

Environmental concerns –

On the lagoon, surrounded by white sand and with its holiday bungalows, “there is a struggle between developing aquaculture and tourism,” said a senior regional representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

“One has less impact on the environment, but the other generates more revenue and jobs,” said the representative, adding that “pressure from real-estate investors is very high.”

With the influx of tourists, the protection of the environment has become a major concern.

“Everything is developing so quickly… we need to recycle plastic waste and resolve the issue of wastewater,” said Rachid Roussafi. 

Read: Plastic in crosshairs at UN environment forum

Daniel Bellocq, a retired French doctor, worries for the future of this lagoon, that was “once so wild” that he has kitesurfed in for 20 years.

“There is green algae that weren’t there before, it’s becoming a septic tank,” he said.

Regional councillor Cherif, though, insists the bay is clean, saying: “All the hotels are equipped with wastewater management systems.”

For him, the real threat is from plastic waste, whether it is dropped by tourists or brought by sea currents. 

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Triggered by MP’s disgrace, Tunisia’s #MeToo breaks taboos

Tunisian politician allegedly masturbating outside a high school has sparked the country’s own #MeToo moment, with sex abuse victims breaking taboos under the hashtag #EnaZeda.

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Viral images of a Tunisian lawmaker allegedly masturbating outside a high school have sparked the country’s own #MeToo moment, with sex abuse victims breaking taboos under the hashtag #EnaZeda.

Read Also: Newly sworn-in Tunisia President vows to reunite the country

Discussion of sexual harassment had previously been limited to a few edgy TV shows, but now thousands of women in the North African nation are sharing their experiences from lecherous remarks to paedophilia.

A video showing the moustachioed politician sitting in a car with his trousers dropped to his knees was shot last month by a student who shared it online alongside accusations of harassment.

The newly elected lawmaker denies inappropriate conduct and has said he was urinating due to a medical condition, even threatening his accuser when pursued by prosecutors.

#EnaZeda — Tunisian Arabic for #MeToo, was inspired by the huge global movement that bloomed in 2017 in the wake of sexual assault allegations by multiple women against Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

It has given some in Tunisia the confidence to confront their harassers face-to-face.

“Tonight, I have cried all the tears from my body. Tonight, I was harassed and nobody took the trouble to react,” wrote one internet user Lina Kaboudi.

But “unlike all the other nights, I dared to respond to the perpetrator. I did not keep walking, pretending I had not heard.

“I stopped, and I held him to account”.

Breaking taboos 

Tunisia is considered a pioneer on women’s rights in the Arab world and was the first predominantly Muslim country to abolish polygamy in 1956.

But the taboo on confronting sexual misconduct remains strong, especially within the family.

It is rare for victims to pursue formal complaints, despite sexual harassment in public places being punishable by law with a one-year prison term and a fine of 3,000 dinar (around 1,000 euros) since July 2017.

To catalogue the avalanche of testimony, Tunisian activists have set up private Facebook groups including one simply named #EnaZeda, which has more than 20,000 members.

Poignant accounts, some anonymous, are shared daily in the group — ranging from rape and incest to inappropriate behaviour by teachers or celebrities and molestation on public transport.

Activists say they have been surprised by the volume and variety of the stories, and NGO Aswat Nissa (Voice of Women) says it has collected more than 70,000 testimonies.

“At first, we created a group to defend the young girl who filmed the lawmaker, because she had suffered a lot of criticism and pressure,” said Myriam Bouattour, who heads Aswat Nissa.

“Then women, and sometimes men too, shared their stories, so now we are trying to organise workshops with psychologists.”

Bouattour said she has received messages from parents who have “broken the family taboo by talking about sexual harassment with their children, after reading testimonies about paedophilia”.

‘Didn’t lift a finger’ 

Traditional attitudes and apathy among some in power mean the nascent #EnaZeda initiative faces an uphill battle.

Kaboudi — the woman who called out street harassment — laments the passivity of the police, who “were a few feet away” and did not “lift a little finger” to help her when she was harassed.

She also despairs of witnesses who similarly “did nothing”.

In an attempt to break the silence, in October the Centre for Research, Study, Documentation and Information on Women (Credif) launched an awareness campaign about sexual harassment on public transport.

Dubbed “the harasser #MaYerkebch (does not ride) with us”, the initiative includes an app that uses a chatbot to speak to a harasser on behalf of a victim or witness and remind them of the law.

Najla Allani, director of Credit, emp the app states out loud the type of sexual misdemeanour and location, in a voice that speaks firmly in local dialect to “intimidate and scare the harasser”.

“People dare not speak (themselves) out of fear, but with this voice app, they will be better able to react”, Allani said.

An evaluation of the experimental initiative later this month will decide if it continues, so long as “the financial means allow it”, she added.

It remains to be seen how big a contribution #EnaZeda will make to Tunisia’s battle against sexual harassment, but one thing is sure — the shroud of silence is no longer so suffocating.

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Sudan launches first-ever satellite in partnership with China

Sudan has been involved in a national space programme for decades covering activities such as remote sensing and geoinformatics

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Sudan launches first-ever satellite in partnership with China

Sudan’s first-ever satellite for conducting research in military, economic and space technology has been launched by China, the country’s ruling body said Tuesday.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who heads Sudan’s sovereign council, announced the launch of the satellite at a meeting of his top security officials held in Khartoum.

China’s state news agency, Xinhua, reported that the satellite was launched on Sunday from north China’s Shanxi Province.

“The satellite aims to develop research in space technology, acquire data as well as discover natural resources for the country’s military needs,” a statement issued by the council said.

The spokesman of the ruling body Mohamed al-Fakhi Sulaiman told reporters that “in a few months the satellite would be monitored from Sudan”.

“China launched the satellite as it is a partner in this project.”

Sudan has been involved in a national space programme for decades covering activities such as remote sensing and geoinformatics.

In 2013, the then Sudanese government of now-ousted leader Omar al-Bashir established the Institute of Space Research and Aerospace (ISRA) as part of an overall plan to develop space technologies.

Bashir was ousted by the army in April following a nationwide protest movement against his rule of three decades.

The protests were triggered by the economic crisis led by an acute shortage of foreign currency and high inflation.

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