03:45 GMT27 November 2020
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    HURGHADA (Egypt) (Andrei Bichinev) - A number of amenities, such as halal food and a special cultural center, will be available for Arab football fans who plan to visit Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Ehab Wahdan, a member of the working group on ensuring the safety of tourists with Egypt’s Interior and Tourism Ministry, told Sputnik.

    This year, from June 14 to July 15, Russia will host the FIFA World Cup for the first time. Matches will be held in the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi, Yekaterinburg, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Volgograd, and Samara.

    "Our representatives have already visited Russia and agreed with several restaurants about halal meals, discussed what and how to cook and spoke about what the Arabs love. We discussed the possibility of organizing a buffet system, discounts and coupons," Wahdan, who also serves as the head of the Egyptian office of Tez Tour, one of Russia's leading tourism companies, said.

    As for the Arab cultural center, an agreement has already been reached with Egypt’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, the expert noted.

    "The details will be revealed later. This center will hold events, invite singers and artists. Our fans will be able to enjoy organized leisure. The Saudis, with whom we cooperate during the World Cup, promised to rent the territory and set up a huge tent for the cultural center," Wahdan said.

    Several Thousand Egyptians to Visit Russia for World Cup

    Many Egyptians are planning to visit Russia for the World Cup, and tourism companies have already begun booking tickets on both regular and charter flights.

    "I think that because of this event, the demand for local resorts among the Egyptians will drop; people were saving money, because the trip to Russia is not cheap, they opted out of a few summer vacations to get the chance to go the mundial with the whole family. There are organizations and families that have started booking spots for the World Cup in Volgograd, and in Moscow, and in St. Petersburg six months in advance," Wahdan said.

    At least 1,000 people have already bought tours to Russia through Tez Tour, while another 1,000 are currently at the decision-making stage, according to the expert.

    Since direct air traffic between Moscow and Cairo is expected to resume in mid-February, the number people visiting Russia for the World Cup is likely to increase substantially.

    "Now, when direct flights from Cairo to Moscow will resume, and special prices for those wishing to go to the World Cup were promised, I think we will be able to sell a third [batch of one] thousand of tours. The Egyptian team will definitely play three matches in two weeks, so the fans will fly to Russia for the average period of 12-15 days. And if our national team performs well, the fans are ready to extend their stay in Russia," the expert said.

    In general, the interest in traveling to Russia has been growing among Egyptian tourists, who tend to visit Russia’s most popular destinations: Moscow, St.Petersburg and Kazan.

    Large Number of Saudis Also Set to Visit Russia During FIFA 2018

    "Approximately six months before the World Cup, even people from other Arab countries, for example from Saudi Arabia, sought guides through us. Their team plays the first match at the opening of the World Cup with the Russian team. The Saudis will take care of the flights themselves, but in Russia we will provide them with such services as transport, translation, excursions and so on," Wahdan said.

    Some 2,000-3,000 Saudis are expected to visit Russia through Tez Tour alone, the expert underlined.

    In general, more than 4.9 million tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup have been requested during the first period of the second sales phase, according to the FIFA press service.


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    meals, hospitality, organization, infrastructure, World Cup 2018, FIFA, Ehab Wahdan, Russia
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