Egyptian economic progress vital: KSA

Crown Prince Muqrin, deputy premier and head of the Saudi delegation at the Egypt Economic Development Conference, in talks with Bahrain’s King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, in Sharm El-Sheikh on Saturday. (SPA)

Crown Prince Muqrin, deputy premier and head of the Saudi delegation at the Egypt Economic Development Conference, in talks with Bahrain’s King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, in Sharm El-Sheikh on Saturday. (SPA)

Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf highlighted the significance of Egypt’s cohesion and financial well-being, not only for itself, but for the entire region and the world at large.

“Egypt’s achievements, through its commitment to fortify the country’s economic stability and the efforts to revive its tourism business, provide the opportunity for comprehensive and sustainable progress,” Al-Assaf said during his speech at the second day of the Egypt Economic Development Conference at Sharm El-Sheikh, where $12bn were pledged by regional governments for investment in Egypt on Friday.

Al-Assaf pointed out that the economic reforms in Egypt prompt the Kingdom to look for more investments in that country.

The minister commended the efforts made by the Egyptian government to implement a number of vital economic reforms despite the tough challenges it had to face.

The minister underscored the historic ties between the two countries and said the relations between both nations are multifaceted.

Al-Assaf hinted at the agreements in the energy field that would be signed with Egypt shortly, and pointed out that Egypt is one of the top 20 countries that import and export from the Kingdom.

The finance minister, UAE State Minister Sultan Al-Jaber and Egypt’s Electricity and Renewable Energy Minister Muhammad Shakir, attended the signing ceremony of two MoUs. The signing took place between Shakir, Saudi company ACWA Power and UAE’s Masdar for investments worth of $9.4 billion.

According to the memorandum, ACWA Power and Masdar will establish a 2,200MW power plant west of Damyat, a solar energy plant with a total capacity of 1,500MW in various locations and a wind power station with 500MW for $2.4 billion.

The memorandum with ACWA Power also included the construction of a thermal power plant of 2,000MW in Egypt, which could be enhanced to 4,000MW for $7 billion.

Meanwhile, Egypt hailed the investment deals and the aid pledges as a show of support for President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi and his fight against terrorism.Among the deals was 4 billion euro ($4.2 billion) agreement with German conglomerate Siemens for a 4.4 GW power plant in the country, and an additional 2 GW in wind power, a company spokesman said.

Another possible 6 billion euros are in the pipeline with memorandums of understandings inked for more power plants.

Planning Minister Ashraf El-Arabi said the Gulf nations’ pledge showed their support was “political, and this political support is very important in this phase.”

“I believe that the message is clear that most of the world is supporting Egypt in building the new Egypt,” he told AFP.

“The (funding) announcement… makes us very comfortable, and it is a certificate of trust that Egypt will develop and become better than before.”

About 100 countries and international organizations are attending the three-day conference aimed at attracting billions of dollars for Egypt’s economy, which has been battered by years of political turmoil.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met El-Sissi and the leaders of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, told business people Friday that Washington was “eager and ready and willing” to help Egypt’s economic development.

“Egypt presents a model for Arab civilization,” El-Sissi said Friday. It is “a country that rejects violence and terrorism and extremism, a country that strengthens regional stability and peace.”

In one of the biggest deals expected at the conference, British Petroleum is to sign a $12 billion deal — shared with Russian partner DEA — to develop Egyptian gas fields.

Plans were also unveiled for a new administrative and business capital east of Cairo that will house five million people and feature a theme park “four times bigger than Disneyland.”

Housing Minister Mustafa Kamel Madbuli said the new city would relieve pressure on overcrowded Cairo, with its population of 18 million expected to double in coming decades.

“The idea to build the new city originated from our awareness that Cairo’s current population will double in the next 40 years,” Madbuli said Friday in a presentation showcasing the details.


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