Egypt Independent: Living-Main news en What are the most poplar destinations for US travelers? <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">For the second time, Queens is predicted to become the most popular and trendiest destination for holidaymakers, this time projected to overtake Brooklyn as the new &ldquo;hipster haven&rdquo; in 2016.</span></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last year Lonely Planet declared Queens, New York the best US destination of 2015, raising eyebrows in and out of the travel industry.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Editors at the respected travel brand lauded the borough for boasting the biggest and best Chinatown in NYC, a dynamic neighbourhood diversity &ndash; Astoria and Rockaway &ndash; and designer, boutique hotels that offer visitors more bang for their buck just a few subway stops away from Manhattan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This year, online booking site has likewise decided to give the New York borough the top spot on its Top 10 Travel Predictions for 2016.</div><div>In recent years, Brooklyn landed on the radar of Millennial hipsters who began flocking to the outer borough for its low-rent and burgeoning food scene.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But between 2012 and 2013, the number of visitors to Queens has seen a 12 percent growth compared to Brooklyn (8 percent), thanks to an eclectic food scene and the development of trendy boutique hotels like The One Boutique Hotel in Flushing and the Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City, says</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The local tourism office has also been capitalising on the windfall title bestowed by Lonely Planet, by launching an aggressive promotional campaign this past spring with the tagline &ldquo;The World&rsquo;s Borough.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>More than 120 countries are represented in the area and 135 languages spoken.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To make their predictions, analysts looked at the number of bookings made on their site.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After recording a nearly 40 percent increase in travel demand in 2014, experts also predict that demand for Dallas will continue to grow in the new year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The city is home to major Fortune 500 companies such as Southwest Airlines, Exxon Mobil and Texas Instruments.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The first international destination to appear on the list is Phuket, the country&rsquo;s largest island.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here are the top 10 destinations predicted to trend in 2016 according to bookings made on</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>1. Queens, New York</div><div>2. Dallas, Texas</div><div>3. Anaheim, California</div><div>4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin</div><div>5. Oregon: Portland, Ashland, Eugene</div><div>6. The Rust Belt: Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh</div><div>7. Mexico: Mexico City, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana</div><div>8. Phuket, Thailand</div><div>9. Ontario, Canada: Toronto, Niagara Fall, Mississauga, Windsor, Niagara-on-the-Lake</div><div>10. Oslo, Norway</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 14:31:00 +0000 AFP 2462204 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/25/43/screen_shot_2015-11-25_at_4.35.54_pm.png UAE to profit from entrepreneur's idea after Egypt 'drops the ball' <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>&quot;Soon in Dubai&quot;, Faculty of Law graduate Ahmed al-Tamawy wrote on his Facebook page after he lost hope in Egyptian bureaucracy while trying to implement an idea he had for government funding.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tamawy&#39;s start began with a Facebook post seven months ago, when he suggested printing ads on one side of metro tickets to provide financing for the state during this period of economic crisis. Tamawy believed that this move could provide funds in one year that would equal three years of salaries for metro workers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In April 2015, he registered his idea with the Real Estate Authority, later meeting with the head of the subway authority.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He also met with managers from soft drink and telecommunications companies, who welcomed his idea. The only thing left was to wait for approval from the metro authority officials.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After newspapers and TV channels showed interest in Tamawy&#39;s idea, he met with the transport minister, who showed great interest in the idea and ordered immediate steps to carry it out, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Two months later, the idea was still going through bureaucratic channels and had yet to be implemented, so a frustrated Tamawy decided to approach the UAE and Austria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He later traveled to Dubai where his project was welcomed by officials.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Kill them with success then bury them with a smile,&quot; Tamawy said when commenting on his failure to implement his project in Egypt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm&nbsp;</em></div> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 12:27:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2462179 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/25/16030/image_0.jpg Egyptian bodybuilding champion debuts new fitness supplement line <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Rising bodybuilder and entrepreneur Mahmoud Al Durrah hopes his new supplement line can open a gateway in the fitness industry between the West and the Middle East, serving as a source of inspiration for young Egyptians.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Aiming to be the first Egyptian to debut his own brand of fitness supplements sold online and in stores by early 2016, Durrah says his dream is the first of its kind. &ldquo;I want my supplement company to really be the biggest thing that comes out of the Middle East in terms of bodybuilding and fitness,&rdquo; the two-time Canadian national bodybuilding champion told <em>Egypt Independent</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Currently, almost all of the fitness supplements available on the market are developed and launched in the United States and Canada, Durrah says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With Egypt as its first market, the new Durabolic Nutrition&nbsp;line will include six products: two flavors of whey protein isolate, testosterone support, pre-workout, intra/post-workout recovery and a fat burner.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As an American University in Cairo graduate, Durrah says debuting his product in Egypt only makes sense as Cairo is his hometown and most of his fans are Egyptian. &ldquo;The amount of support I get from them only makes it fair to return the favor in the best way I can,&rdquo; he adds.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/competition.jpg" style="width: 536px; height: 283px;" /></div><div><em>Durrah poses on stage in July during the 2015 Canadian national championship where he took first place for the second time after sustaining a severe burn injury.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Sponsoring Egyptian athletes</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With a pool of talented athletes in the Middle East, Durrah feels it is time to shed light on the region through his connections and business savoir-faire. One of his goals, which he hopes to achieve through Durabolic Nutrition, is to sponsor Egyptian athletes, boosting their image and catapulting them onto the world stage.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The problem, Durrah says, is that Egyptians have a lot of potential in both work ethic and genetics when it comes to fitness, but lack the local big fitness sponsors that exist in the West. &ldquo;I want to give them the opportunity that they don&#39;t really have,&rdquo; he explains.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Durrah already has a few Egyptian athletes in mind to sponsor once he gets his company up and running.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Beating the odds</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Having succeeded against the odds, Durrah hopes his story will embolden young Egyptians everywhere. Durrah suffered a bad accident before almost every championship in which he competed, from a motorcycle crash where he broke his knee to another incident which led to him having shoulder reconstruction surgery. Despite the circumstances, he won many of his competitions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Four years ago, when he moved to Montreal to be with his children, he spent a lot of time jumping from job to job, just to make ends meet. Without any knowledge of French, he struggled. &ldquo;I had absolutely nothing. My job at the time was waxing cars at a gas station and I had two kids to feed. I had to wake up at 5 a.m., finishing at 7 p.m., then go to the gym and catch six hours of sleep if I was lucky,&rdquo; he says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before his latest championship competition in Canada, Durrah was trying to put out a house fire when he received second- and third-degree burns to much of his body, spending several days in the ICU. After recovering at home for two months, he came back to win the 2015 Canadian bodybuilding championship for the second time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/hospital.jpg" style="width: 536px; height: 302px;" /></div><div><em>Durrah lies on a bed in the hospital shortly after being burned in a fire at the end of October 2014. He only had until July to prepare for the Canadian national championship, where he took first place.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To reflect this inspirational story of success, Durrah says Durabolic Nutrition will feature an ad campaign showing athletes in harsh environments with the motto: &ldquo;Why are you here?&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Nutrition and work ethic</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Though Durabolic Nutrition is still in the testing phase, Durrah says his fans will be pleased not only with his product&rsquo;s high quality, but also with the taste. Vanilla-coconut-flavored protein powder is a new flavor that the Egyptian market has never seen. &ldquo;It tastes like paradise,&rdquo; Durrah says with a smile.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While Durrah prepares for his next competition, he is now focusing on coaching, in addition to his new supplement line. He trains a wide variety of athletes from men wanting a bodybuilding physique to women who want to compete in bikini competitions, and of course, the average person wanting to get in shape.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As his product expands into Egypt, Durrah is looking forward to visiting his home country more often, possibly partnering with local gyms and coaching Egyptians online from Canada. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t get into bodybuilding for the money,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I got into it for the passion. I love to see the way people feel when they see how much I&rsquo;ve changed the way they look. And mostly, the anticipation preparing for contests, and the brutal hard work involved. It all shows on stage, you can&rsquo;t cheat and hide from it. I don&rsquo;t mess around; I never skip meals or skip workouts. &nbsp;And those who do, will walk on stage like its thin ice, and I will be under it when it breaks.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Durrah hopes that through his product and coaching efforts, he can give back to the community where he was born and raised in a bigger way than anyone in the fitness industry has ever done.</div> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 12:19:00 +0000 Drew Brammer 2462176 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/25/501010/pic1.jpg CNN: Beasts of the deep - swimming with the underwater Big 5 <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Done the famous Big Five of Africa &mdash; lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What&#39;s next?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Time to swap the khaki shorts and binoculars for diving suit and swimming goggles in pursuit of five other giants in Asia-Pacific.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Found in the oceans of Australia and islands further afield are some of world&#39;s most iconic endangered marine species: the white shark, green turtle, the humpback whale, whale shark and the Australian sea lion.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As I discovered, swimming alongside them can be a life-altering experience, albeit one fraught with difficulties.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But it&#39;s worth the effort.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here&#39;s how to do it &mdash; and what happened when I tried.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Australian sea lion</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="The largest remaining colonies of Australian sea lions are found on the islands of South Australia. Among them, Hopkins Island is the the most accessible destination to see the adorable mammal." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>The largest remaining colonies of Australian sea lions are found on the islands of South Australia. Among them, Hopkins Island is the the most accessible destination to see the adorable mammal.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Australia sea lions were once found in great numbers along the continent&#39;s south coast.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But they were hunted to the point of extinction in the early 1800s.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Today, the species is still listed as &quot;vulnerable&quot; under Australian law.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The largest remaining colonies of Australian sea lions are found on the islands of South Australia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The most accessible colony lives on Hopkins Island, a rocky outcrop in the Spencer Gulf some 30 km from the tuna fishing town of Port Lincoln, where charter companies run popular sea lion tours.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swimming with Australian sea lions is like being on the set of an aquatic Cirque du Soleil.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Using their flippers to dart through the water with tremendous ease, they take turns doing backflips, somersaults, leaps, swirls and twists out of the water.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Awe-inspiring moment: Life-affirming doesn&#39;t even begin to describe how I feel when a female swims up to me and rubs her whiskers in my face.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&#39;s not for nothing these adorable creatures are known as the Labradors of the sea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Risk factor: White sharks prey on sea lions. Tour operators say sharks don&#39;t hunt around Hopkins Island, but there&#39;s no guarantee.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swimming skills: Participants must be able to swim 100 meters from a charter boat to the island and back.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Calypso Star Charters in Port Lincoln offer half-day tours to Hopkins Island for AUD190 ($135).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Green sea turtle</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Keep your head above the water and you&amp;#39;ll be fine." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Keep your head above the water and you&#39;ll be fine.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the tiny Pacific nation of Samoa, green turtles, or I&#39;a sa (sacred fish), are an important part of tradition, folklore and song.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the species is also hunted by subsistence fishermen for its meat, which is considered a delicacy in South Pacific cultures.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At the Saleaula Turtle Reserve in the northeast corner of Savai&#39;i &mdash; Samoa&#39;s largest island &mdash; a family is trying to change islanders&#39; relationship with green turtles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We breed them and when they are big enough, we tag and release them into the ocean,&quot; says Papalii Faafetai, owner of the reserve. &quot;Any fisherman who catches a turtle in their nets, we pay them to bring them here instead of eating them.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Awe-inspiring moment: Floating in the water with green turtles is a surreal experience, like visiting a zero-gravity world inhabited by fluidic, amiable aliens.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At first I jumped with fright whenever one brushed against my back, but soon became accustomed to their slimy, inquisitive touch.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Saleaula Turtle Reserve is also one of only a few places in the world where visitors can swim with green turtles in captivity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Risk factor: The holding pond has a high concentration of algae created by the waste product of 20-something turtles. It&#39;s advised to keep your head above the water.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swimming skills: Basic. The holding pond is waist-deep.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Saleaula Turtle Reserve on Savai&#39;i Island, Samoa, charges 5 Tala (US$2) entry.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>White shark</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Time to face the &amp;quot;Jaws&amp;quot; fear." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Time to face the &quot;Jaws&quot; fear.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There&#39;s no creature on earth that engenders greater fear among humans than the white shark, even though it&#39;s the white shark that should be scared of us.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Classified by The International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable to extinction, the big fish&#39;s populations have been severely impacted by commercial gillnet fisheries, shark-fin poachers and pollution.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But in the Neptune Islands, a series of uninhabited islets 30 kilometers southeast of Cape Catastrophe in South Australia, white sharks are in abundance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&#39;s also where Rodney Fox, survivor of the world&#39;s worst documented shark attack (Fox was nearly bitten in half in 1963) runs his famous cage-diving expeditions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Departing from Port Lincoln on a refurbished tuna boat, Fox bring passengers face-to-face with nature&#39;s ultimate killing machine from the safety of a steel cage fitted with breathing apparatuses.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Awe-inspiring moment: The largest great whites are six meters long but it&#39;s their girth &mdash; as wide as a van &mdash; that took my breath away.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Seeing these torpedo-shaped monsters glide effortlessly through the water in their natural habitat is a remarkable and humbling experience.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Seeing them explode with the force of a cannon when they make a pass at the bait was the most thrilling wildlife experience of my lifetime.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Risk factor: In the UK and South Africa, divers have narrowly escaped after their cages were savagely attacked by sharks. No such incidents have occurred in Australia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swimming skills: Basic. However a PADI or equivalent diving certificate is needed to join ocean floor cage dives.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions offer two- to five-night voyages to the Neptune Islands starting from AUD1,195 (US$850).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Humpback whale</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="It&amp;#39;s almost certain you&amp;#39;ll see a humpback whale, but whether it will want to swim with you depends on luck." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>It&#39;s almost certain you&#39;ll see a humpback whale, but whether it will want to swim with you depends on luck.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Heavily exploited in early 1900s, the humpback is the beneficiary of one of the most successful wildlife recovery programs in history.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The International Whaling Commission says the species has returned to their unexploited size in the waters off Australia&#39;s east coast, where more than 20,000 humpbacks migrate during the Antarctic winter to feed, breed and calve.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Whale watching vessels are a dime a dozen along the 5,000-kilometer-long coast.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But in the sleepy surf town of Mooloolaba on Queensland&#39;s Sunshine Coast, a company called Sunreef has taken it to the next with offering whale swimming experiences.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sunreef&#39;s dive boat motors into open ocean where owner Dan Hart scans the horizon for bursts of vaporized water shot from the whales&#39; blowholes when they surface to breathe.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Once a humpback is spotted, the skipper cruises up to a 100-meter distance and throws out a line.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The swimmers jump in and hold on the line.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&#39;s then up to the whales to come over and say hello.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Does it work?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hart says all of his tours see whales but only about half get to swim with whales. I embarked on three trips with Sunreef before I got to swim with a humpback for two seconds before it dived and disappeared.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But others have been more successful (see photos in the gallery).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Risk factor: Unknown. The industry is in its infancy and seen no injuries to date. But a fin or tail swipe from an adult whale can kill just about anything. White sharks also follow whales.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swimming abilities: Advanced. Participants must be confident swimming in open seas.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sunreef in Mooloolaba offer half-day whale swim tours for AUD128 (US$91).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Whale shark</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Despite being the largest fish on the planet, the Whale Shark is a gentle swimming companion. South Ari Atoll, a ring of 120 sunny islets in the Maldives, is a regular hangout for these sea giants." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Despite being the largest fish on the planet, the Whale Shark is a gentle swimming companion. South Ari Atoll, a ring of 120 sunny islets in the Maldives, is a regular hangout for these sea giants.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Weighing up to 20 tons, the whale sharks is the largest fish on the planet.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&#39;s also harmless, a gentle giant with brush-like filters in place of teeth it uses to ingest plankton, beautiful yellow spots and stripes unique to each individual.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Whale sharks are globally protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But illegal poaching in east Asia has seen their numbers fall to the mere thousands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On the flip side, whale shark eco-tourism has generated significant income in places like South Ari Atoll, a ring of 120 sun-kissed islets in the Maldives.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It has become famous because of the large presence of whales sharks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 1997, it was declared a protected marine park specifically because of the species.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Awe-inspiring moment: &quot;The first time I swam with whales sharks we were on a speedboat doing a manta ray excursion,&quot; says Chiara Mascetti, an Italian marine biologist at Lux* Island Resort.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We were on the way back to the resort when suddenly I saw a fin rise about the surface. I thought it was a whale but when I jumped into the water I realized it was a whale shark. It was feeding on plankton and had its mouth wide open.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It remained near the surface, barely moving for 15 minutes until it swam off.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It was an amazing experience because it was so unexpected.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Risk factor: Next to zero.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swimming abilities: Basic. The waters of South Ari Atoll are protected and calm.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lux* Island Resort in the Maldives offers bi-weekly whale shark excursions for US$100 per person.</div> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:19:00 +0000 CNN 2462127 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/07/06/43/150605123259-whale-shark-oslob-exlarge-169.jpg