The decision of the Egyptian government to enforce strict new closing times for shops and restaurants will save the country up to LE6 billion ($1 billion) a year in electricity costs, as the Trade and Industry Minister, Hatem Saleh, has stated.
He said that earlier closing hours for business establishments would reduce their dependence on state-subsidised electricity, thus benefiting the state budget.
Starting from November, Egypt's shops will have to turn off their lights by 10 p.m., while cafés and restaurants will have to shut by midnight. Places officially counted as catering for tourists as well as pharmacies will be exempted.
The minister added that the decision, which has faced objections from business owners, was brave and that the time has come to implement it. He explained that the success of the new initiative would also depend on the Egyptian consumers who have to change their habit of late-night shopping.
Local Development Minister Ahmed Zaki Abdeen warned of severe monetary fines for violators but said that business owners could apply for a licence from the Ministry of Tourism if they wish to keep their shops open at a later time.