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IMF chief cites example of Egyptian diva saying when speaking on reform

Lagarde turned to the Arabic language when she said ‘aspirations will not be met with wishes’

Published: Updated:

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde on Friday urged Egypt to continue its much needed growth – while employing a famous quote from legendary Egyptian songstress Umm Kalthoum.

At an address at a three global investor conference in the resort Red Sea city of Sharm al-Sheikh, Lagarde turned to the Arabic language to say “wa ma nailu al-matalbi bil tamani” which means “aspirations will not be met with wishes [but rather with hard work].”

The words – which used as quote by Arabs - were part of a stanza written by the famous Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawqi.

She also cited a quote by another famous Egyptian icon, Nobel Laureate Najib Mahfouz, when she said ‘a talented person is known from his questions while the wise from his answers.”

With this she linked a statement from Ethiopia’s premier, who asked “if we should drown or swim together?”

Lagarde said that “I know we can swim together in the pristine water of the Red Sea.”

While Gulf Arab countries pledged $12.5 billion aid to Egypt, African countries, including Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Mali and Tanzania also highlighted Egypt’s importance to Africa.

At the opening ceremony on Friday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said: “The Nile constitutes a common destiny: we either sink or swim together. You know, Mr. President, we chose to swim together.”

Egypt previously objected to Ethiopia when it started building dams on the Nile.

Meanwhile, Lagarde added that over the past few months there have been promising strides towards reform.

Lagarde also hailed Egypt’s project to dig a second canal in August to allow two-way traffic of larger ships in the Suez waterway.

However, she stressed the importance of Sisi’s administration of living up to the trust Egyptian people have shown in their government.