Visitors and residents no longer have to sneak their photos of Egypt’s streets, after the tourism ministry announced that amateur photography in the country’s public spaces is now allowed.
Foreign vloggers and social media influencers have in recent months brought attention to Egyptian authorities’ practice of stopping people taking photos and videos, even at tourist sites, and confiscating camera equipment.
In a statement, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that the country’s cabinet on Wednesday “approved new regulations governing photography, for personal use” by both Egyptian residents and tourists.
“Taking photographs using all kinds of traditional cameras, digital cameras and video cameras will be permitted free of charge. No permit needs to be obtained beforehand,” it said.
Egyptian nationals and foreign tourists alike have complained that authorities have requested permits for shooting in public areas, and at times seized cameras and forbidden shooting even if a permit is in place.
Restrictions will remain in place for photographing children and for commercial photography, the statement said.
It also noted that “it is completely forbidden to take or share photographs of scenes that can, in one way or another, damage the country’s image”.
Egypt’s relative relaxation of draconian photography rules might bode well for its tourism sector, which generates more than 10% of GDP and employs about 2 million people in the country of 103 million.
Egypt has for years been striving to revive the vital sector, repeatedly hit by the country’s 2011 revolution, ensuing unrest, and the Covid-19 pandemic.