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Egypt comes to Monte Carlo

THE man behind the plans for an Egyptian Grand Prix appeared at Monaco this weekend in the company of Bernie╩Ecclestone. Ashraf Mahmoud, who is chairman and chief executive of the Quasar Financial Corporation, a construction-based firm which is investing heavily at the moment in developing Egypt's leisure facilities. Mahmoud said that plans are well-advanced for a race and that the scheme has the support of the government although whether this will be financial remains to be seen as the country is currently in the process of liberalizing its economic structure to create more private enterprise.

There are two sites under consideration for a race: one near the Pyramids and the other close to Cairo airport. Both sites have the necessary infrastructure to support a race thanks to the tourist industry, but this has suffered badly in recent years because of violent attacks on tourists by Islamic fundamentalists aiming to disrupt the Egyptian economy in order to destabilize the country.

Mahmoud says that this will not be a problem for the race but that there may be difficulties with the preferred site (at the Pyramids) because of environmental issues. Mahmoud has been in talks with circuit designer Hermann Tilke about the layout for a track and he hopes that the project will go ahead within three years.

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