By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: Professional squash players from 16 different countries are coming together next month for the Second International Squash Open held in Gouna, aiming to bring Egypt’s tourism industry back on track.
El Gouna Second International Squash Open is scheduled for April 5-13.
“We are delighted to be hosting for the second time the El Gouna International Squash Open, especially during this time, in order to send a message to the world that Egypt is a safe place and up to holding one of the top world championships,” said Amr Mansi, founder of El Gouna Second International Squash Open and former professional squash player.
The tournament is a Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series event, which was first launched in October 2010. It is one of the most important tournaments of the PSA World Tour, offering the largest monetary prize of $120,000.
“We have been getting ready for this tournament for three months now, with daily practices that are five to six hours long,” said Amir Wagih, Egyptian National Squash team coach.
“The players are extremely enthusiastic about the tournament especially that it will be held during the Easter holidays, so a lot of people and their families will be able to attend,” he added.
Timing the tournament to be during the holidays was intentional. The National Council for Sports moved the date of the national championship, which was originally scheduled for April, in order for the El Gouna tournament to take place during that time.
Squash TV, which offers live streaming of tournaments online and feeds 15 television channels around the world, will be covering it.
Taking place at the Red Sea Resort town, the tournament is sponsored by Orascom Development, the Arab African Bank, Carrier, Moods Restaurant and Beach Bar, CellSafe and Family Tours.
“We want to show the world that our country is ready for tourism — not only our hotels, but all the services — and most importantly that the country is safe,” said Mayar Abdel Aziz, vice president of marketing at Orascom Hotels and Development.
“We want to reassure everyone around the world,” she added, pointing out that all the necessary measures to secure the locations have been taken in coordination with the local authorities.
Among the participants in the open are Egyptian players Karim Darwish, winner of the first El Gouna International Squash Open in 2010 who ranks fourth worldwide, as well as Ramy Ashour, ranking fifth; Amr Shabana, ranking sixth, and Mohamed Shorbagy, ranking eighth.
Other top ranking Egyptian players participating are Omar Mosaad, 13, Hisham Ashour, 14, Tarek Momen, 19, Mohamed Reda, 27, Karim Abdel Gawad, 32, Marwan Shorbagy, 35 and Mohamed Abbass, 40.
The qualifying matches for the open will be played in Alexandria’s Sporting Club on April 5-7 and the final rounds will be played in El Gouna on April 8-13 in the world’s most high-tech glass court, which has just arrived from Germany.