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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Egypt bans foreign belly dancers
A belly dancer
Some foreign dancers have become celebrities
Foreign women will be banned from performing belly dancing in Egypt, the state newspaper al-Gomhouriya reports.

The ruling by the minister for labour and immigration will prevent non-Egyptians from getting belly dancing licences from 1 January, says the newspaper.

Egyptian belly dancers are thought to have pushed for the ruling to prevent foreign dancers from taking their work.

There has been a recent influx into the country of foreign performers - particularly from Russia - who have taken up the oriental dance.

A top belly dancer commands around ($3,145) 2,000 a night - a price the foreign dancers have been happy to undercut.

As even a modest Egyptian wedding is not regarded as complete without a belly dancing act the ancient ritual is big business.

Schools have been established in Cairo to train foreigners, as well as locals in the art.

But while some overseas dancers have become celebrities in their right, others have worked on the fringes of prostitution earning the disapproval of religious and state authorities.

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06 Jun 01 |  Middle East
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