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Egyptian Souvenir Shop Struggles To Stay Open During Air Crash Probe

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Egypt says it will lose hundreds of millions of tourist dollars, a consequence of the crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt. Some of that lost money would've gone to the man we'll meet next. He told his story to NPR's Leila Fadel.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken).

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Ahmad Zinba (ph) waits on two Russian customers looking for trinkets to take home as gifts. He goes by his nickname. Customers are a rare sight these days, he says. Every day since the Russian plane broke apart in the sky, there are fewer and fewer people coming in.

AHMAD ZINBA: Since that day till now, it's come - everything low - low, low, low. We will not sell much.

FADEL: Ahmad moved here from Luxor in upper Egypt, a city that tourists flock to from around the world to see ancient temples along the Nile. He had a little business selling art and souvenirs, but things changed after the 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

ZINBA: And I was just start my own business. After what's happened in Cairo, we spent, like, one years that we don't have work, we don't have money in.

FADEL: The tourists stop coming, he lost his business, and he and his brothers and his cousins moved to Sharm el-Sheikh, where Europeans buy cheap package holidays for beach, sun and fun.

ZINBA: You know, no business, no work and no money in, and everything start higher. You know, how you going to cope with this life? It's too hard to cope with that.

FADEL: And now it's happening again, as inflation continues and life becomes more expensive.

ZINBA: I love Luxor, and I don't want to leave Luxor and go out, but I have to move. I have to move. I don't any choice.

FADEL: And to make things worse, the tourists that are here aren't buying because they're worried they'll lose their luggage. Most airlines are only letting people take a small carry-on on the plane. But he says he thinks it'll pick up again. After all, it has sun and a beach. Leila Fadel, NPR News, Sharm el-Sheikh. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.