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Haifa Preparing for Sadat’s Visit

July 18, 1979
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Haifa, “the forgotten jewel of Israel” as its Mayor Arieh Gurel describes it, is sprucing up for President Anwar Sadat’s visit next month aboard his yacht. The visit has brought to life a project begun 25 years ago — the construction of a modern passenger terminal in the port area — which observers say would have taken another 25 years to complete were it not for the impending arrival of the Egyptian leader.

Now, workers are swarming over the partly built structure in a crash effort to get it ready in time for Sadat. Haifa, which many people consider the scenically most beautiful city in Israel — it has been compared to Naples and Rio — is Israel’s largest seaport. But as travel by sea declined and most tourists arrive and depart from Ben Gurion Airport, the city on the slopes of Mt. Carmel, overlooking a crescent-shaped bay, tended to be by passed by visitors.

There are relatively few hotels, except on the high ridge of the Carmel where Israeli and foreign vacationers throng in summer to enjoy the cooler temperatures. Sadat will be coming at the peak of the season and the Mt. Carmel hotels, already heavily booked, will have to find rooms for representatives of the world news media as well as hundreds of local journalists. Gurel believes that regardless of these problems, Sadat’s visit will put Haifa once again “on the map.”

The port itself, where congestion has been the norm for years, will be especially hectic next month. It plays host to two unites of the American Sixth Fleet — the giant carrier Independence and her escort destroyer Patterson — with a combined complement of thousands of men on a three-day visit. In addition, about 40 passenger-carrying ships will call at Haifa next month, 28 of them cruise ships landing thousands of tourists.

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