While Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reopens the former Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia for Islamic worship, in Egypt President Abdel Fattah al Sisi launches development projects aimed also at promoting the influx of pilgrims to St. Catherine’s Monastery, in the south of the Sinai Peninsula, considered one of the oldest Christian monastic complexes in the world, reported Fides News Agency.

On Sunday 12 July, during an operational meeting dedicated to the launch of large-scale urban and infrastructure projects, the Egyptian Head of State urged Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and other members of the government to accelerate the development program already outlined around the city of Saint Catherine, aimed at enhancing and making the historical and spiritual heritage concentrated in the southern Sinai region more accessible.

In some statements made to the national media, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Damianos of Mount Sinai thanked the Egyptian authorities for the attention and the resources they invested in projects aimed at facilitating the influx of pilgrims to St. Catherine’s Monastery. The development program under study by the Egyptian government also provides for the construction of an airport in the region, which would allow for the organization of pilgrimages with direct flights coming mainly from Greece and Cyprus, guaranteeing pilgrim tourists the possibility of reaching the monastery in complete safety.

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