Friday, March 29, 2013

Bringing Your Dog From a Non-EU Country to the UK

Many ex-pats when living abroad will frequently find themselves in a situation where they have acquired a pet, most commonly a dog or a cat. K and I got Orien not long after moving to Hurghada, and after 4 years of having him he is certainly part of the family. We meant it when saying "you now have a forever home."

With this in mind, when our plans started to gravitate towards moving out of Egypt, I knew getting Orien ready to travel (to a destination initially undecided) was a priority. I started the long and arduous process of searching online to find a simple and straightforward 1,2,3 type steps of "this is what you need to do." What I found instead is a myriad of sites that all hold snippets of information, making it almost impossible to figure everything out withiout some help.

That's what this blog is intended to do. Having just gone through the process of bringing Orien from Egypt to the UK, I have compiled a list of steps that you need to follow to get your best friend ready to travel. Be warned however, this process can take up to 6 months, so you will want to start planning in advance to make sure that you have everything ready for your furry friend. Throughout the blog you'll find websites hyperlinked where you can get further information - and then you'll be able to see just how many sites I had to go through to get this whole process figured out.

Blood Test Result

  1. The first, and absolutely most important part of this entire process, is to get your pet microchipped. The microchip must be according to EU standards. On Defra's site, they tell you "We do not specify a particular type or brand of microchip to be used but, in Europe, ISO (International Standards Organisation) Standard microchips meeting specifications 11784 or Annex A of ISO Standard 11785 are generally used." O.o What that means in laymen terms, is that the chip must be readable by an internationally standardized chip reader. Basically, the chip has to be all numbers. If your chip has a letter in it, ask your vet for an ISO standard chip. If you are in the US these can be more difficult to come by, but you can order them online from the UK. 
  2. The next very important step is to make sure your pet is vaccinated against rabies. THIS HAS TO HAPPEN AFTER THE CHIP IS INSERTED OR YOUR BLOOD RESULTS WILL BE INVALID. You will then have to wait 30 days before you can have the animal's blood drawn for a titre test to make sure the antibodies are there. [Please note, if you reside in one of these countries outside of the EU, you do not have to get a blood test done and can proceed directly to step 6, however as I came from Egypt, this is a basic guide for those coming outside of these approved countries] The rabies injection information needs to be put into your pet's passport along with microchip number and other injection information. It does not matter if it is not an EU issued pet passport (although it does make the process easier). 
  3. Once you have waited 30 days, your pet needs to have their blood work tested in a DEFRA approved lab. There are 2 listed on their website in the UK. When I first saw this I panicked, as Orien's blood work was done in Germany. Not to worry, here is the listing of DEFRA approved labs in the EU, and here is the listing of those outside the EU. To read more information about how this process came about, you can read through this site. Ask your vet what lab they intend to send your pet's blood work to before you bother sending it and finding out it's not an approved lab. The results can take up to 2 months to return, especially if you're working with the bureaucratic system that was in Egypt!

  4. When your blood results come back, they should indicate your pet has a volume equal or greater to 0.5 IU/ml and again in laymen's terms, this is indicative of your dog having sufficient antibodies to protect against Rabies. If the animal doesn't, you have two options. Wait a few weeks (or until after the next rabies injection) to blood test again, or you can travel to the UK and your animal will go into quarantine. It currently stands at a minimum of 3 months as they will have to test your dogs blood, and it carries a hefty fee, depending on the size of your dog. Orien is 26 kg, and we were quoted 30 GBP a day. So I recommend you wait if the blood results are off! 
  5. Having received your blood results back, you now have to wait a minimum of 3 months to travel to the UK. There's little else you can do in the meantime, as most airlines will not allow you to book farther than 2 weeks in advance. So rest assured if you have the blood back, you can wait patiently until you decide to travel. 
  6. Once you get closer to the time where you will begin to sort out your animal's airline travel, you next  eed to arrange for a crate. If you know you have a nervous dog, try to get the crate in advance to give the animal time to get used to it. We bought Orien's crate 2 months in advance, so by the time he was ready to fly it was no big deal for him. There are very specific restrictions on what kind of crate is appropriate for traveling. Most will request an IATA approved travel crate. It has to be fully ventilated on all sides, your animal must be able to turn around freely in the crate. Check here and here for information on how to measure your pet for a crate. 

  7. We used a crate similar to this for Orien. If your crate has wheels attached,
    you WILL have to remove them prior to your pet traveling.
  8. As your departure date nears, you have to decide what airline to use. Some will offer different prices, others will be more expensive, at the end of the day it's all your preference. Only requirement is that it meets DEFRA requirements on travel company. Click here if you are planning to fly, and here if you are planning to travel by air or sea. Again for the purpose of this blog I flew Orien, so I will continue giving information for that route. Some airlines will want additional paperwork other than what I have already noted, so phone in advance and check. For your records, neither British Airways nor Egypt Air require additional paperwork. 
  9. You'll notice if you check Egypt Air's website that it states: Weight of animals and their containers should not exceed 5 kgs. The dimensions of container are not to exceed 45x35x20 cms, Passengers must provide these container. I read that and thought "Crap, Orien is far heavier than that. But not surprisingly with Egypt Air, this information is incorrect. It should be that animals up to 5 kg are allowed in the cabin. All other animals will be checked as cargo. NOWHERE on Egypt Air's site does it state this, but trust me it is an option. 
  10. If you have all your airline quotes ready and you're confident in the decision, now comes the rush and stressful last minute details. I highly recommend getting an agent to help you with the Egypt side of things, as specifically to travel from Egypt you require a certificate of health for your dog from the Department of Agriculture, stating your dog is fit to travel. Unless you want to try and deal with the stress of this yourself, it's best to get an agent. We used Safwat Lawendy, who made the entire process seamless and facilitated getting all the last minute paperwork. Find his email address here.
  11. Your dog needs to receive tapeworm treatment no more than 5 days prior to travel, no less than 24 hours prior to travel. Your vet should be able to administer this, and it MUST be added onto the certificate of health AND your pet passport that your animal was given the tapeworm treatment. Should you want an approved list of tapeworm treatment for travel please email me and I will be happy to provide you with the full PDF listing. 
  12. The next step is a cargo company in the UK. Regardless of whether you plan to travel with your animal or not, you will need a cargo company in the UK to receive your pet and help clear it through customs. We flew through Heathrow, so please use this information accordingly. 
  13.  The Cargo Company will send you, as the owner, a C5 form to fill out. This is crucial to fill out as it is the customs form for your animal. If you are flying with the dog, you can ignore the sections on who is picking the dog up, as it's all your own information. If you plan to travel ahead of your animal, the cargo company will require three things from you: A copy of your passport, a copy of your UK address / contact information, and an EMAIL / Letter from Egypt and the pet's sender to you, clarifying that they will be sending the dog to you. Again, Safwat here will take care of these details. If you try to speak to Egypt Air yourself, they will tell you that you need a telegram sent from the UK verifying you can collect the dog. And good luck trying to find somewhere that offers that service still!
  14. Once you've sent off your C5 form, the animals certificates are in order, and your travel day approaches, there are a few things you will need to know. From Egypt, your animal will have to arrive to the airport 5 - 6 hours prior to the flight. Make sure you DO NOT feed them before travel. Your crate must have water for the animal. Orien was sent with his blanket, but you should NOT be sending toys as they can possibly choke while in the flight. It is important to remember your animal will be alone during the flight, so it is YOUR responsibility as the owner to ensure they have nothing to potentially harm themselves with. 
  15. I cannot stress this enough, your animal CANNOT be sedated. Recent studies have shown that a vast majority of animal travel related deaths are the result of sedation. When the flight reaches altitude the animal's blood pressure drops. If they are already sedated and have a lower blood pressure, this can lead to cardiac arrest. As mentioned above, your animal is alone, so please do NOT sedate! If you know that your animal will be nervous, you can use a herbal relaxant such as Valerian root.  Click here for more information on why you should not sedate.
  16. Depending on what airport you are arriving to, you will need a cargo company at your destination airport to clear your animal through customs. Again, this applies even if you are flying with your pet. We used Ladyhaye International Pet Travel Agent, and I was more than happy with their service. All you have to send them is your completed C5 and a copy of your ID, and they sort out all the customs for your pet. Through Heathrow, your animal will go through the Animal Reception Centre (ARC), and it can take up to 5 hours for the animal to clear through customs. Bear in mind that along with the time of your animals flight, they also have to arrive early and are picked up late. So it's important to remember to give them some water to travel :) However at the ARC in Heathrow, your dog / cat will be allowed out, fed, watered, and vet checked. 
  17. If you've made it this far, pick up your pooch! Remember to bring a copy of your passport / ID with you, and to tackle any unforeseen problems, copies of all your pooches' paperwork. I was a little worried about Orien settling in, but fortunately after about 3 days he was doing really well. One week later, and he's in the routine and more than happy! 

And now for the part that I know a lot of people will be wondering. When it comes to cost, it will depend on the size of your animal (the cost goes by the size of your crate plus an approximation of your dogs size). However in addition to the cost of your dog, the following fees may apply:

In Egypt: (AWB = Air Way Bill, your pet's ticket)

If you want to multiply the cost of your dogs crate, you can do it yourself using the following calcultion. For the sake of this example, I am using figures for one medium crate (medium breed dogs such as a collie, etc). Sizes are in centimetres and include length, height and width. 

You multiply the 3 sides of your crate, then dividing by 6000 = your chargeable weight

1 - 96 x 60 x 75 = 432000. Divide by 6000 =  72 kg

  • 72 kg x 36.30 EGP = 2613.6 noted on the AWB (this cost varies depending on the size of your crate)
  • Other charges due air line 195.90 noted on the AWB (standard cost)
  • Storage fees = 175.00  (standard cost)
  • Official health cert + EU health certificate = 475.00 (standard cost)
  • Export & vet control + customs form = 350.00 (standard cost)
  • Clearance fees (if you are using an agent such as Safwat) = 1000.00 (standard cost)
Total cost in Egypt would be: 4809.50 [Egyptian Pounds]

Then once you get to Heathrow you will have more charges to pay depending again on what cargo company you will use. Some of the fees are Heathrow STANDARD, but they will vary depending on when you are flying. If you plan to arrive on the weekend, a surcharge of 175 GBP flat is included. Otherwise during the week, expect to pay an addition 300 - 400 GBP. 

** These fees are standard, and  may change at any time. Please check before flying. **

Fortunately, if you have multiple dogs to travel, you will only pay an additional 50 GBP per dog (up to 5 dogs) in Heathrow. For the Egypt fees however, I am unsure. 

For anyone flying with their furry friend, I wish you all the success. Breathe, relax, and know the people handling your animals are all trained professionals!

Orien enjoying his new home!

Please note, this blog is based on my own personal experiences and knowing how hard it is to find one concrete webpage with all the information. At the end of the day it is always your responsibility as the owner to ensure you are fully familiarized with all requirements. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Egyptian Madhouse

Watching the news in Egypt from afar these days, you cannot help but be shocked, amazed, and all together disgusted at the headlines dominating local media. From public lynchings, to attacks on women, to journalists being sued without first being notified of it, to what appears to be the overall collapse of the State, I feel almost nauseous reading the news.

I mean, public lynchings? Really? 2 men accused of kidnapping a child are "found guilty" by their compatriots  stripped, beaten, and hung in public. Did I miss a beat and we suddenly regressed to the 12th century? Oh, no that's right. Egypt's Prosecutor General had a brilliant idea to propose the power of citizens arrest to individuals, granting them full access to arrest anyone they saw fit. What has been called the "Judiciary policing," was met with outrage by many. From those working in the tourism industry, lamenting it will deal a further devastating blow to an already crippled economy, to laymen who simply wonder what the fuck? And as is the norm in Egypt, once the uproar sounded, the Prosecutor General's office swiftly denied what they claimed to be rumours, asserting they had never intended to grant citizens arrest powers. Never mind that; the stage had already been set to give some individuals just one more reason to shun the (minimal) rule of law still remaining in Egypt, and hang two men in a public area. Let me also note, these two men mark the THIRD victims of public lynchings in the same town Gharbeya, after another individual Hamada Saber was lynched. Have Egyptians lost their minds?

Well the answer would appear to be, perhaps, but one cannot deny that they have been driven to this extreme by the surrounding circumstances. With Morsi and his gang of MB cronies establishing one backwards ruling after the next, then subsequently retracting them (here's just one recent example), or the Islamist dominated Shura Council saying laws that have been established violate the Constitution that THEY THEMSELVES drafted, you can't help but empathize with the state of madness that has gripped the country. The upcoming elections are set to go ahead in the coming few months, assuming of course Morsi doesn't again delay them, are expected to be a perfect display of Egyptian Democracy pure corruption. I'm sorry did I say that out loud? The MB is already predicting "massive wins" in the elections, despite the ever waning popularity of their party. But of course they know something we all don't know, that elections can be bought with meat and bread, and when all else fails, just stuff the ballot boxes. 

Then we have the increasing sexual harassment in Egypt, which has long been documented as an a phenomenon with no end in sight. Women have launched websites, facebook pages, and mobile alerts in an attempt to deter the harassment, but it's hard to fight that battle when the very institution sees women as a problem in the first place. Ah yes, again we have the wisdom of the Shura Council. This headline would be fitting in a satirical John Stewart piece; it would be funny were it not real. "Shura Council Members Blame Women for Harassment." You can all join me here: what.the.fuck. Here's a few quotes from this gem: 

“Women should not mingle with men during protests. How can the Ministry of Interior be tasked with protecting a lady who stands among a group of men?” [Reda Al-Hefnawy, a member of the MB's Freedom and Justice Party]

“The woman bears the offence when she chooses to protest in places filled with thugs,” a member of the Salafi Party (known for its more extremists views) Abdel Salam said. Salam reportedly continued to say that the phenomenon needs to be addressed. OH! GOOD! You realise that do you? But of course what's your solution? Lock the women in the house? Never allow them to step into the obviously dangerous streets because the mere fact we are born with breasts mean we ask to be raped?

Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking it's just a few stray men.
“Women sometimes cause rape upon themselves through putting themselves in a position which makes them subject to rape...Some foreign-funded organisations are imposing western beliefs upon us; tents present in some squares witness prostitution.” Adel Afifi, a prominent member of the Salafi Al-Asala party, said.
I am offended for all women here. I just don't know what else to say.

To continue with the charade that is the recent on-goings in Egypt, we have the headlines from the past few days. Between rising fuel prices, increasing electricity cuts - deemed a result of the fuel crisis, finding out Egypt is sending MILLIONS of dollars outside of the country in Foreign Aid to places such as South Sudan and Palestine (this comes, bear in mind, that Egypt has been told it needs serious reforms for the IMF loan to come through, including parliamentary elections; the loan is seen by many economists as being one of the few things that will save Egypt's economic crisis), the government has now suggested bread rationing. Do they not remember the bread riots of 1977

What I find amusing about this proposed rationing system is that electronic cards have been proposed as a means to monitor the rationing. Well that should be fun, seeing as how most kiosks / bakers don't even have credit card machines...and throw that on top of the constant electrical outages, I can only begin to imagine how many "Maleshes" will be handed out to customer. "Malesh, we have no electricity, please come back tomorrow for double ration." "Malesh, our machine is broken, have a free ration today." Seriously? The MB couldn't make it any more clear than they already have that they are not only completely out of touch with the reality of life in Egypt, they are completely out of touch with any sense of realism whatsoever.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Egypt to Ban Duty Free Alcohol?

I'll let the article do the talking here, but their photo was crap. This one is much better ;) Better stock up on beer for the summer!

Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry is considering a ban on the sale of alcohol in airport duty-free stores after it received complaints that it goes against the country's Islamic principles, ministry officials and a senior lawmaker said Tuesday.

Liberal and secular opponents of Egypt's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, fear he and his supporters are seeking to slowly enshrine a more conservative system in Egypt based on Islamic law. There are also concerns that steps such as banning alcohol would drive away tourists, a critical source of income for Egypt's faltering economy.Duty Free officials said the ministry has been reviewing the policy for about four months after citizens and ministry officials complained.
Morsi's Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has emerged as the most powerful political force in Egypt since the uprising two years ago that ousted the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Civil Aviation Minister Wael el-Maadawi, a former general who is not affiliated with an Islamist party, raised the idea of the ban in a meeting Monday with members of the interim parliament's transportation committee, said committee head Mohammed Sadeq.
Sadeq, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood political party, told The Associated Press he does not have an opinion on the matter at this time because the committee he heads is currently grappling with "much bigger issues."
"We are foremost talking about the country's economy. So even if this issue requires its proper place at the discussion table, now is not the time since there are bigger priorities at hand," he said in telephone interview.
He said the minister was discussing with lawmakers on parliament's transportation committee safety measures and how to ensure that alcohol bottles sold in airports are not used as firebombs.
Egypt has been embroiled in wave after wave of unrest in the two years since the uprising, with protests and clashes over a range of social ills from the deteriorating economy to poor security and Morsi's leadership.
El-Maadawi told the lawmakers there have been calls to ban the sale of alcohol in duty-free stores, though he did not say who the calls came from. He said they were looking into the complaints, but did not talk about any review or study of the policy, Sadeq said.
The Brotherhood lawmaker said the issue touches on both financial considerations and matters of Islamic law, which prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim nation and its laws include both religious and civil code.
The sale of alcohol in Egypt is allowed only to licensed dealers and tourist areas such as hotels, restaurants and bars, which are all heavily taxed and pay high customs tariffs for imports. There is also locally-made wine and beer. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Egyptians are prohibited from purchasing alcoholic drinks anywhere.
Officials at Cairo's airport say the sale of alcohol and cigarettes accounts for more than half of total profits of duty-free stores in Egypt. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media about internal reviews.
Duty Free Egypt, managed by Egypt Air airline and the airport administration, says on its website that it operates 67 retail outlets in all major Egyptian airports as well as space in a Cairo mall and two Red Sea resort towns.
Passengers are permitted to purchase up to four liters (4.2 quarts) of alcohol upon arrival, or three liters (3.2 quarts) within 48 hours. The law limits Egyptians to purchases of up to two times per year, whereas foreigners are allowed up to four times per year, though it is rarely applied.
Ahmed el-Borai, spokesman for the main opposition National Salvation Front, told the AP that banning the sale of alcohol will not stop people from drinking it.
"Are we asking people to bring alcohol from abroad? There is no reason for this study and it will affect tourism," el-Borai said.
There have been other hints that Egypt might be moving in a more conservatively religious direction.
Last year, the head of the upper house of parliament complained that Egypt Air was showing an old Egyptian movie with scenes he saw as too racy during an international flight. He wanted a review of the national carrier's policy on showing films.
Similarly, the spokesman for the ultraconservative Islamist Salafi Nour Party told a conference of tour guides last year that tourists should not be allowed to buy alcohol in Egypt but could bring it with them and drink it in their rooms.
The Housing Ministry's New Urban Communities Authority said no new licenses would be issued for liquor stores and current licenses will be revoked in new residential settlements. The decision does not affect tourist establishments such as restaurants or hotels that sell liquor.
The NSF's El-Borai said he is very concerned about "wasting time talking about films on an airplane or whiskey in the airport."
"People cannot find diesel to drive their cars, and maybe will not find electricity," he said of Egypt's current diesel crisis. "There are much bigger issues than this to think about."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Egypt's Police Force Strikes

Let me just say "Uh oh." From the Washington Post

CAIRO — Thousands of low-ranking policemen on strike across Egypt on Thursday refused orders to work and protested what they claim is the politicization of the force in favor of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood party.
The strike, in its fourth day, is a rare show of defiance by policemen against their superiors. It threatens to unravel a security force already weakened by two years of unrest following the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
For decades, Egypt’s police aggressively targeted the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups that were once outlawed. Policemen say they are now being forced to confront protesters angry with Mubarak’s successor, President Mohammed Morsi, and his Brotherhood supporters. They also are angry that they can be tried in military courts and complain that current laws do not protect them when they carry out their duties.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement Thursday that it stands at equal distance from all parties, and that the ministry is being objective in its duties.
The ministry, which oversees police in Egypt, relies on low-ranking policemen to protect government buildings, particularly in the face of angry protests in Suez Canal cities and in areas north of Cairo in the Nile Delta region. Hundreds of policemen have been wounded in the past six weeks of unrest in those areas, and several have been killed in the anti-government protests.
In Cairo, dozens of policemen blocked the entrance to one of the city’s main police stations and expressed anger at Morsi’s policies. Others held a sit-in outside Morsi’s house in his hometown of Zagazig, northeast of the capital.
South of the capital, in Assiut and Luxor, policemen protested what they say is new Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim’s attempts to use the force to protect the Brotherhood.
Security officials in the Interior Ministry said that the former interior minister refused orders to direct police against anti-Morsi protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo in December. They say that the Brotherhood was also enraged that police did not protect the group’s offices that month from being torched by Egyptians angry with Morsi’s handling of the drafting of the constitution.
The strike comes just two days before a court is expected to hand down verdicts to defendants standing trial for a deadly soccer riot that killed 74 people in the canal city of Port Said. Nine security officials are among the 73 people on trial. Earlier, 21 people in the case were handed death sentences, which can be appealed, sparking a wave of violent protests in the city that led to 40 deaths in late January and accusations that police used excessive violence to clamp down on rioters.
Anger is also boiling in the Nile Delta province of Dakahliya, where protesters and policemen accuse the new security director there of ordering heavy-handed tactics to suppress anti-Brotherhood protests. Sami al-Meehy was appointed the province’s security chief in recent days, just as anger there was mounting against the Brotherhood and a civil disobedience campaign began. Police there are accused of intentionally running over and killing a protester last weekend.

Friday, March 8, 2013

US to Honor Egyptian Woman, Reverses Decision

Yesterday news was announced of the U.S. State Department's intentions to honour Egyptian woman Samira Ibrahim, the female activist who was allegedly subjected to a virginity test while protesting in Tahrir Square. She was selected to win the International Women of Courage award, to be handed out today, International Women's Day, by Secretary of State John Kerry and Michelle Obama. 

Samira Ibrahim in Cairo, Dec. 2011.
(Ahmed Ali / AP) Source
The decision has been revoked however, following news of Ibrahim's anti-American and anti-Semetic comments on her Twitter feed. While the activist has claimed her account was hacked, the comments reportedly go back a few months. Click here to read more on the revocation of the decision. 

Some of the comments allegedly include statements such as: ""Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May [we] every year see the U.S. burning," posted to her account on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks. 

Al-Ahram online writes: "On 18 July 2012, Ibrahim tweeted: "An explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is such a lovely day with a lot of lovely news," referring to a suicide bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver."

So my first comment on this would be, bravo to the U.S. for recognizing the plight that many women go through around the world to promote and further women's rights. But with that being said, do they not research these people in advance? Do they just pick through headlines and decide "Okay yeah she sounds great, let's nominate her" and leave the dirty work to the media outlets? I understand in many cases some of the dirt that media outlets are able to dig up is buried in such a fashion that it takes a substantial amount of time to find it, but this was posted to her Twitter feed! This was in a public domain! It would have taken the researchers tasked with finding such women very little time to actually be able to check out her Social Media sites and ensure that such comments were never made. 

And Ibrahim's response? So typical of many responses we see these days in Egypt. "My account was hacked, multiple times. No racist comments were mine." Oh how convenient. Those pesky invisible hands have extended their reach to the Social Media accounts of activists, and over a prolonged period of time work their darndest to make sure you look like a racist bigot. Sneaky, sneaky invisible hands. All I can do is sigh and shake my head. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Reports of Suspicious Men Trying to Pick up Kids

In the past few days a few reports have been circulating on facebook regarding suspicious men driving around offering lifts to school kids.

Although the reports remain unverified outside of eyewitness reports, it serves as a chilling reminder of how drastically Egypt has changed in the past few years. Whereas 5 years ago Egypt was considered a very child-friendly country, one where you rarely had to worry about kidnappings outside of those that happen among broken families, in the post-Revolution period in Egypt kidnappings for ransom have risen dramatically. Just today, 2 British Tourists were kidnapped and later released on their way to Sharm el-Sheikh. It's almost a running joke now, trips to Egypt should be marketed as adventure holidays!

But the thought of kids being snatched from the street by random individuals presents a much graver worry. The first report indicates that two men were seen in Mubarak 2 driving a white Jeep. They were approaching children who were waiting for the school bus, offering rides to the kids. When the children refused, the two men insisted, saying they had snacks inside and were friends of the child's parents.

The second report was of a van driving around with two men in the front, and allegedly a third in the back. Similarly, the van was stopping by children and offering rides.

Whether these incidents are the same and warped as the story circulates, the point remains the same. Parents should remain vigilant during these times of uncertainty and ensure their child's safety. Last year, around the same time, I posted a blog detailing other reports of children being snatched in Hurghada. The timing of the incidents really makes me go "hmm."