UAE and Egypt launch $20 bn joint program

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Kuwait - Yasmine El Tohamy - ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates and Egypt launched a $20 billion joint investment program yesterday to develop “economic and social projects”. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan made the announcement during a visit to the Emirati capital by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. “We launched a joint strategic investment platform between the UAE and Egypt worth $20 billion to implement vital economic and social projects for our brotherly countries,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a tweet.

He added that he discussed with Sisi ways to strengthen relations and enhance coordination. The UAE has been a firm regional backer of former army chief Sisi since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The UAE and Egypt are also part of a Saudi-led alliance that cut relations with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of bankrolling Islamist extremist groups and of being too close to regional rival Iran. Doha denied the accusations. Cairo has been seeking investment to boost its sagging economy and create jobs.

Poor and middle-class Egyptians have been bearing the brunt of harsh austerity measures since 2016 when the government secured a $12-billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund in exchange for tough economic reforms. Nearly one in three Egyptians live below the poverty line, according to official figures released in July. The reforms have met with some pushback, fuelled by allegations of graft among the political and military elite.

Rare, small-scale protests broke out in September calling for Sisi’s removal after an exiled Egyptian businessman accused the president and top military brass of rampant corruption. Egypt’s economy took a battering in the immediate aftermath of the revolution that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Direct foreign investment has grown to record levels in recent years, but the national debt has ballooned since the pound was floated in November 2016, leading to a sharp depreciation._ AFP

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