Kites for Sabahi, planes and jet skis for El-Sisi

Marina Barsoum , Monday 19 May 2014

Both candidates are campaigning in new, creative ways - but there's a financial gulf between them in terms of cash to be spent

Supporters of presidential runner Hamdeen Sabahi in Upper Egypt's Minya carry his pictures raising the three fingers sign symbolizing a third way, alternative to the army and the Muslim Brotherhood (Photo: Sabahi camapign facebook page)

The campaign of presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi will gather on a bridge over the Nile to fly kites on Monday evening.

The event – called "Ideas have Wings" – will target the city's youth by flying kites carrying the candidate's posters on Qasr El-Nile Bridge in central Cairo.  

Last week, supporters of Sabahi gathered to form human chains in 10 governorates as part of their campaigning efforts.

The governorates included Upper Egypt’s Luxor, the canal governorates of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, the Nile Delta’s Alexandria, Qalioubiyaand Gharbiya, in addition to the Red Sea, North Sinai and Giza in Greater Cairo.

Deeper pockets

But kites and human chains have been overshadowed by El-Sisi's campaign efforts, which have greater financial backing.

The advertising director for Sabahi's campaign said that they've spent less than LE100,000 – a drop in the well compared to El-Sisi's advertising campaign, which has already surpassed LE12 million.

Earlier last week, an airplane carrying a large poster of El-Sisi took off from Cairo International Airport. The plane – a rental paid for by businessman Ahmed Fadaly and members of the Independence Current, a pro-Sisi coalition – flew over Cairo before heading to a rally in Upper Egypt.

Local newspaper Al-Shorouk reported the cost of the airplane trip to be almost LE90,000 ($12,500).

Last Friday, hundreds of El-Sisi's official youth campaigners in Alexandria organised a regatta of marine boats in the Mediterranean Sea to parade photos of the former defence minister.

They had another sea rally on Sunday, this time using jet skis. The race was followed by a water show, with Alexandria residents cheering with the campaigners and chanting pro-Sisi slogans.

A photo from social media of El-Sisi campaigners on jet skis in Alexandria

The new campaign ideas were organised by youth volunteers, Ihab Zakareya, coordinator of the youth committee for El-Sisi's campaign, told Al-Ahram's daily Arabic newspaper.

Zakareya said that youth members have also initiated other ideas to encourage Egyptians to go and vote in the upcoming election.  

Supporters of the two contenders

Sabahi's supporters include the Constitution Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Amr Hamzawy's Egypt Freedom Party, the centrist Adl Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and Sabahi’s Egyptian Popular Current and Karama Party.

Many parties have also backed El-Sisi – the liberal Wafd Party, the Al-Tagammu Party, the Salafist Nour Party and Amr Mousa's Conference Party.

While Sabahi is touring Egypt to attend rallies and conferences organised by his supporters, El-Sisi is depending more on campaigns arranged and attended by his supporters and is not travelling as much due to security reasons – earlier this month, he said in a TV interview that he has survived two assassination attempts since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Egyptians will cast their ballots on 26-27 May. Egyptians abroad voted from 15-18 May.


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