Egypt's president Abel Fatah al-Sisi under fire for signing a deal to hand over Tiran and Sanafir islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. The deal paves the way for the construction of a bridge linking Saudi Arabia to Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the most popular dive resorts in world.
The proposed Saudi-Egypt Causeway would pass through Tiran Island. The bridge, to be named after King Salman of Saudi Arabia, will facilitate pilgrimages to Mecca and promote local industry. The announcement followed Egypt and Saudi Arabia signing an agreement on maritime border demarcation and marking the islands of Tiran and Sanafir within Saudi regional waters.
Meanwhile, the diving businesses in the region fear that a potential loss of Tiran and Sanafir - which are hot spots for divers coming to Sharm el Sheikh - to Saudi Arabia will turn the state of the industry from bad to even worse at a time when tourism is already dipping,.
Salah el-Din Atef, a CEO of one of Sharm el-Sheikh's tourism companies, stated to Aswat Masriya online news service that if Egypt sacrifices Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, none of the tourism companies will have access to them, because they will no longer be in domestic waters but will belong to another state.