Egyptian President promotes investment on first official UAE visit
ABU DHABI // Egypt is open for business, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi told potential investors on Monday on his first official visit to the UAE.
“We welcome you in Egypt and will provide appropriate investment atmosphere. There are genuine investment opportunities in Egypt,” Mr El Sisi told an audience of businessmen in Abu Dhabi.
The Cairo government alone could not meet Egypt’s economic ambitions, he said. “Hence comes the role of Egyptian, Arab and foreign investors to upgrade the Egyptian economy.”
Mr El Sisi particularly urged Egyptian businessmen in the UAE to invest in their home country. “The government of Egypt will remove all obstacles facing the investors by easing licensing procedures and other measures. You are invited to invest in Egypt along with Emirati and Arab investors.”
Mr El Sisi said previous barriers to foreign investment, such as corruption in issuing investment licences, had been removed, and Egypt would also implement a unified investment law before hosting a major economic conference in March.
Earlier, Mr El Sisi had been welcomed to the UAE by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
There was an official welcome ceremony with 21-gun salute at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, attended by the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.
Mr El Sisi also paid his respects at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, on a visit accompanied by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, and Mohammed Al Dhaheri, the UAE ambassador to Egypt.
He read Al Fatiha over the tomb of the founding President, Sheikh Zayed, signed the guestbook and praised the architectural and decorative designs of the mosque, and the prominent cultural role that it plays in Abu Dhabi and the region.
Mr El Sisi also took part in the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
The two-day visit was an opportunity to express Egypt’s appreciation for the UAE’s continuing support, Mr El Sisi’s spokesman Alaa Youssef said.
UAE aid to Egypt since the removal of the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 is massive: US$6 billion, more than Dh22bn, in cash and interest-free loans to guarantee fuel supplies and fund projects in health care, education, food, housing and transport. Last year the UAE contractor Arabtec began talks with the Egyptian government aimed at building a million low-cost homes, one of Egypt’s most pressing needs.
Egypt in our Hearts, a campaign established by Emirates Red Crescent in mid-July 2013 on the orders of the President, Sheikh Khalifa, has provided aid in the form of food, medicines and educational assistance to thousands of needy Egyptians.
In December that year, the UAE also approved projects to boost Egypt’s health, education and agriculture sectors. Over the next few years, 78 health centres, 25 grain silos, railway crossings, 1,488 housing units and hundreds of schools will be built.
The project coordination office for Emirati development projects in Egypt also recently began a campaign encouraging young Egyptian job seekers to take part in training programmes. The scheme will be implemented in 26 districts in four phases and aims to train 100,000 people. The first 25,000 have finished training, and 10,000 have found jobs, Dr Al Jaber said.
Emirati projects in Egypt cover vital sectors including housing, energy, education, health and food security. They provide about 600,000 job opportunities by ensuring funding for nearly 169,000 small and medium enterprises under an agreement between the Khalifa Fund and the Social Development Fund in Egypt.
This is Mr El Sisi’s first official visit to the UAE as president. He visited last year before his election to mark the closure of joint military exercises by the two countries.