Despite the political unrest in the aftermath of the January 25 revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, hundreds of Israeli gamblers still flock to Sinai casinos and say they feel very safe in Egyptian resorts.
According to Egyptian airport authorities, within the last week more than 1,200 Israelis travelled to the border city of Taba, most of them for gambling, the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday.
This figure is seen as quite substantial , especially when compared to the 300 Israelis that crossed the border in the week before.
Casinos in Taba, especially in major hotels like Hilton Taba and Taba Suns, were packed with Israeli tourists who stressed that the political instability that has lately swept Egypt did not affect their decision to come to Sinai and that Egyptian police are doing their best to protect them and make them feel safe.
When the January 25 revolution took place and with the security vacuum that followed, the Israeli government called upon its citizens who were on vacation in the Sinai Peninsula to go back for fear of attacks by the Bedouin against resorts and hotels or attacks targeting Israelis in specific. At that time, hotels decided freezing casino activities.
When the unrest was at its peak, hotel administrations decided to freeze the activities of casino and to evacuate Israeli citizens, said a senior official in one of the Taba hotels.
“This proves that Egyptian security does its best to protect tourists in general and Israelis in particular,” the official said. “Now that it’s safe again, I call upon Israelis to come back.”
“We love Taba and its casinos,” said an Israeli tourist. “When we called the hotel where we wanted to stay, they reassured us that it’s safe and that there’s nothing to worry about.”
Members of an Israeli family staying at the Taba Suns hotels said they were worried in the beginning, yet felt at ease when they saw the tight security in the resort city.
“When we crossed the border, we saw how security has remarkably increased and we were impressed by the precautions,” one of them said. “Nobody enters the hotel without being searched. This includes hotel staff and even managers.”
The same person said the family was impressed by the treatment they have been getting starting from the border checkpoint.
Another tourist said that had these extreme security precautions took place in Israel, he would have been provoked.
“However, I don’t mind tight security here because it makes us feel safe and puts us at ease.”
He added that at first he was not happy upon knowing that the casino opens only during afternoon hours, yet was comforted when the manager told him that casinos will start working normally as of next week.
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)