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Egypt Is Relaxing Its Ban on Taking Photos in Public Places—Here’s What To Know Before You Start Clicking

Vogue Arabia, November 2019. Photo: Elizaveta Porodina

Shutterbugs and tourists in Egypt will benefit from the Egyptian government’s latest announcement which has relaxed the street photography ban—to an extent. Photography on Egypt’s streets was banned for a long time without permits from the government, which were strenuous to obtain, but in a statement released early on Wednesday, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that the country’s cabinet “approved new regulations governing photography, for personal use” by both Egyptian residents and tourists alike.

The new regulations will see three kinds of photography in public spaces, each with its own set of rules, with the first category requiring no payment or permits whatsoever, and includes photos or videos intended for personal use, taken with a phone, camera or camcorder, though the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities specifies that any equipment that could be a hindrance to the streets cannot be used.

In addition to this, photographing children and pictures that portray the country in a negative light is also prohibited, and taking photos of adults is only permissible if the photographer has received written consent from the person in question.

“We still have to discuss the finer points of what kind of photography will not be allowed under the new laws,”  said Khaled El Anany, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities during a phone-in on the Egyptian talk show El Hekaya. “What we don’t want is people filming areas of the country with a lot of garbage, for instance, and focus too much on that. But even that isn’t banned per se, it would just require prior approval during which we will ask why they want to take this footage.”

The second category of photography in the cabinet’s plan surrounds photos and videos taken by foreign correspondents or news channels in the country and will require a permit, although El Anany said the process has been simplified and will not be as tedious. The final and third type of photography deals with cinematic productions and the issuing of permits for foreign film studios to shoot in Egypt. While the country allowed filming inside archaeological sites for years, foreign studios were prohibited from filming on Egypt’s streets. The cabinet is devising a new law that will allow filmmakers to access public spaces for an appropriate fee. Meanwhile, a committee at the Egyptian Media and Production City will oversee the allotment of permits for filmmakers who want to shoot in Egypt’s public spaces.

The new photography rules in Egypt will now be more welcoming to tourists and boost the country’s tourism sector.

Read next: Exclusive: Messika Takes a Deep Dive Into Egyptian Roots with its new ‘Beyond the Light’ Collection

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