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Egypt's scientific team failed to reach conclusions regarding recent shark attacks in Sharm al-Sheikh, declared Southern Sinai’s General Secretary Ahmed al-Itikawi at a press conference held on a Red Sea yacht. Al-Itikawi said the beach will remain closed until answers are found.
A source from within the scientific team told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the governorate has banned the team’s members from making press statements, due to what governorate officials described as “media hype over the incident.”
The source also revealed that the team does not include any scientists specializing in shark attacks, adding that such specialization does not exist in Egypt. He noted that the governorate employed a number of foreign scientists as well as a seafloor mapping boat from Sweden.
Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garana played down any potential effects the incidents might have on Egypt’s tourism. At a press conference in Hurghada, Garana said, “I have not made any statements regarding the shark that was caught; I leave that to the specialists.”
International tourism expert Ilhami al-Zayat described Egypt’s handling of the shark attacks as a catastrophe for Egypt’s international image. Al-Zayat, who is also the former chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that “tour operators in Europe currently ridicule statements claiming that the shark responsible for the attacks was caught.”
A number of diving experts and marine biologists in southern Sinai criticize how the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of State for Environment Affairs has dealt with the attacks, citing their superficial manner and failure to follow proper scientific methodology in determining the attacks' causes. They demanded that the ministers be held accountable for declaring the beaches safe and reopening them to tourists following the first attacks.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.