The day Egyptians forgot about the Muslim Brotherhood
The Egyptian people were confronted with two choices: to build the future or destroy the present
It’s been decades since optimism reigned as it did yesterday, when giant developmental and constructional plans declaring a 'new Egypt' were announced. Amid the positivity, the words “Muslim Brotherhood” were not mentioned and there was no talk of the absurd audio leaks which rivals had resorted to as a means of pitting people against the government. Indeed, the 'Egypt The Future' economic summit has been a smart move; its sole focus was on developing Egypt - at a time when Brotherhood-affiliated media outlets are full of explosive tales.
With these tales, the Egyptian people were confronted with two choices: to build the future or destroy the present. The conference held at Sharm el-Sheikh did not present a particular message, but several commitments. States like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Britain and Singapore announced they would participate in constructing cities and power plants, work with projects to reclaim land for agricultural purposes and to increase oil and gas production.
The most surprising announcement was the establishment of a new administrative capital, neighboring Cairo. President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi decided that this is his future project, dubbed by some as “Sisi’s Cairo” - after 11 centuries of the Fatimids’ establishment of “al-Muizz’s Cairo.”
The Egyptian people were confronted with two choices: to build the future or destroy the presentAbdulrahman al-Rashed
All of Egypt’s historic leaders, from the pharaohs to sultans to mamluks to ottomans to pashas and kings, sought to leave their fingerprints on the capital. The Brits built beautiful bridges and neighborhoods that are still present today, marked by their elegant European style and layout. Late President Gamal Abdelnasser suggested the Nasr city project in 1956 and finished it nine years later after building 15,000 condominiums.
However, the wave of migration from the countryside into the city, along with the increase in birth rates, made Nasr city one of the most crowded and polluted cities in the region.
Thus, it became a difficult challenge for urban planners and engineers and developing it has become an almost hopeless case. The Egyptian government tried to reform it in 1992 but it failed. It particularly tried to rehabilitate slums which later proved to be a security and political threat to the state.
To be fulfilled
We must salute he who organized the successful conference as it included governments from across the world and global corporations. The ideas and projects addressed in the summit were the first of their kind in the Middle East region.
There’s no doubt that if these great promises are fulfilled, there will be another Egypt emerging - a great country that deserves its status and place in history - and one which will be an aid to the region instead of a burden.
The success of these projects will help the regime gain popular support. This support will in turn guarantee the regime’s stability for a long time after developmental failure was a majir reason leading to unrest in Egypt.
Previous Egyptian governments only succeeded at postponing developmental plans to expand security apparatuses instead of thinking of changing Egypt for the best.
With this determination, enthusiasm, and optimism of Egyptians, and that of their allies, we expect the Egyptian government to protect the promised projects from administrative bureaucracy and corruption, which in the past succeeded at intimidating Egyptian and foreign supporters and investors.
Now, President Sisi’s task is to be the guarantor of his developmental aims, because those who attended the conference did so upon his call and on the basis of his promises.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 15, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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