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Arabic press review: Egyptian wrestler flees to France, sparking questions about salaries

Meanwhile, Sudan has reverted to manual banking systems and Turkish-Qatari cooperation brings homes to northern Syria
Ukraine's Parviz Nasibov (red) wrestles Egypt's Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed in their semi-final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (AFP)
Ukraine's Parviz Nasibov (red) wrestles Egypt's Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed in their semi-final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (AFP)

Egyptian wrestler flees to France 

An Egyptian wrestler secretly left his team to head for France after taking part in an international tournament in Tunisia, sparking controversy in his home country, according to a report in London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Ahmed Bagdouda fled from the national team camp during the African Championship in Tunisia, in which he finished second.

The incident has raised questions in Egypt about low salaries and public attention for athletes participating in individual sports, with a perception that Egyptian media tend to focus on team sports such as football, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Egyptian MP Mohamed Zaki submitted a briefing request on Bagdouda's departure to Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly.

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Zaki demanded to find out the reasons that led to his move, as well as the stance of the Egyptian Wrestling Federation, particularly given that this was not the first instance of athletes fleeing team camps.

Over the past decade, more than 10 Egyptian athletes, most of them from the national wrestling team, have fled due to poor salaries. Some have gone on to compete and win prizes representing other countries.

In 2015, wrestler Tariq Abdel Salam fled the national team camp in Bulgaria, while young wrestler Mohamed Ahmed Hassan failed to return after a tournament in Finland in August 2017. 

Two years later, his brother Hassan fled during a world championship held in Hungary, while Ibrahim Ghanem fled from a competition in Poland.

Sudan banks launch emergency measures

Sudanese authorities have launched emergency measures in the banking sector to deal with the consequences of the internal war that broke out two months ago.

The war resulted in the "return of the banking system [to] 50 years back", after the central bank reverted to manual systems in some financial transactions, according to a report in Al-Araby newspaper in London on Friday.

The measures included the central bank's use of a physical code system to facilitate transfers between branches, in addition to clearing bank cheques manually due to failures in the technical system.

Banks have been subjected to vandalism and the looting of more than 25 branches, most of them in the capital Khartoum, since the outbreak of conflict between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

The central bank promised to continue providing banking services to citizens, but said some services would take several days longer than usual. 

"I do not think that this is useful in providing good banking services to citizens, who have begun to withdraw their savings despite the reassurance of the authorities that it is safe," said Sudanese banker Tawfiq Abbas.

"Therefore banks will enter a circle of bankruptcy due to the public's unwillingness to deal with [them]."

Turkey and Qatar building homes in Syria

Turkey and Qatar have stepped up cooperation to establish cities and integrated housing complexes in northern Syria for refugees and internally displaced people wishing to return to the country, according to a report published by the Khalij Al-Jadeed website.

The Qatar Fund for Development and Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (Afad) announced on Thursday that they had laid the foundation stone for a city that initially aims to house 50,000 people.

It will include 5,000 apartments, a mosque, a commercial centre, three schools and a health centre, among other facilities. 

The city's infrastructure will be developed through the construction of roads, public parks, an electricity network and water tanks, the Qatari fund said.

It added that its cooperation with Afad was part of efforts since the beginning over Syria's civil war in 2011 to provide humanitarian assistance and relief to Syrians.

Last week, Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu laid the foundation stone for a housing units project for Syrian refugees in the city of Jarabulus, northern Syria, with Turkish-Qatari cooperation. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously talked about the construction of brick houses in northern Syria, with Qatari support. He said his government would begin to send 500,000 refugees to these homes. 

The presence of some 3.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey has become a controversial issue, with anti-refugee rhetoric ramping up around the country's general election, which is set for a presidential run-off on Sunday.

Both Erdogan and his opposition rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, have said they intend to see imminent refugee returns. However, the latter's rhetoric has become increasingly hostile since his first-round loss.

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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