Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has begun a tour of Gulf countries, visiting Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
In meeting which lasted until midnight, Sharaf met Monday with the Egyptian community in Saudi Arabia, listening to their concerns and their investment projects. The community proposed investments they wished to make in Egypt, including a national project to cultivate wheat through a company owned by ex-patriot Egyptians which has LE3 billion in capital.
During the meeting, the prime minister expressed his belief that between the year 2030 and 2050, Egypt will experience unprecedented growth and development.
Sharaf also expressed his concerns about the transitional period that Egypt is going through following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak on 11 February. He stressed that Egyptians need to put forward the utmost effort in order to safely pass through this period. The interim Cabinet head emphasised, however, that the country would need no more than six months to overcome its transitional woes.
The current government, believes Sharaf, needs to be on good terms with the Egyptian people and that only through honesty and reform can they achieve this. It was the lack of a good relationship between the Egyptian people and their previous leaders which triggered the 25 January uprising. He stressed Egypt will only be able to overcome this dangerous phase by improving the trust between government and people, adding that one way to achieve this trust is through economic development. Rumours that investors are shying away from investing in Egypt were quickly shrugged off.
The prime minister stated that Egypt’s poor are his number one priority and that he would focus on better offering them the services they need to be able to live under good conditions.
On the topic of Egypt’s continental relations, Sharaf indicated that wants to secure a better future for Egyptians, highlighting his visits to Sudan and several African nations.
Egypt’s national unity is imperative, stressed the interim Cabinet leader. Reuniting the country would require a strong economy that could protect the democratic and political reforms crucial to the nation’s growth.
Sharaf shifted the focus to the wave of sectarian tensions that has hit Egypt in the past few weeks, resulting in several clashes between Muslims and Christians. The prime minister stated that anyone who wants to divide Egypt uses sectarian issues to do so, adding, however, that these problems are foreign to Egyptian society. Nevertheless, he admitted that the Egyptian government has not dealt effectively with the sectarian problem. He is committed to solving the problem by using the law to punish the perpetrators.
The ex-patriot Egyptian community was again brought into focus as the prime minister discussed the community’s right to vote in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The meeting also covered standardising the high school qualifications gained by Egyptian students overseas with that of their counterparts at home and the importance of setting a minimum wage for Egyptian teachers abroad.
During the meeting, an Egyptian investor complained to Sharaf that an employee in the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration asked her for a bribe when she sought to hire Egyptian employees in her company in Saudi Arabia. The prime minister promised her that he would deal with the matter.
Earlier today, the interim Cabinet leader left Saudi Arabia and headed to Kuwait for a two day meeting. Upon arrival he went immediately to the Seif Palace to meet with Kuwaiti Prince Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah where he handed the prince a letter from Egypt’s de-facto leader Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. The letter discussed the warm relations between the two countries and the importance of strengthening these relations through economic means, namely mutual investments and the establishment of Kuwaiti companies in Egypt.
Sharaf also met with Jasem Mohamed Al-Khurafy, head of Kuwait National Assembly, to discuss relations between the two countries, stressing the historical relations between the two countries.
The Egyptian prime minister was accompanied by a delegation of officials, including International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abu El-Naga, Finance Minister Samir Radwan, Foreign Affairs Minister Nabil El-Araby, Ambassador Mohamed Kasem, assistant to the foreign minister in Arab affairs and Sami Saad Zaghloul, general-secretary for the Cabinet.