Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi talking to Nehmedou, a woman microbus driver working in the project areas of the New Administrative Capital on the outskirts of Cairo , Thursday, 13 December (Photo: Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson)
In a phone call to the TV programme “Happening in Egypt” on Thursday evening, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi urged the Egyptian media to reflect more accurately on the reality of how Egyptians favourably view living conditions in the country, and report on world events in a way that takes into consideration differences between Egypt and other countries.
Sherif Amer, the presenter of the show on MBC Masr channel, was hosting a female microbus driver named Nehmedou whom the president had met during an inspection visit to projects in the New Administrative Capital hours earlier, when the president called in unscheduled.
Earlier in the day, Nehmedou (which roughly translates in Arabic to We Thank God) told the president she works 10 hours as a driver on the microbus, and asked for help to buy a microbus of her own in installments.
The President honored her request and she was able to acquire the vehicle through the Tahya Masr fund.
The president started his call by praising the driver, describing her as a role model for all Egyptians and women who work hard to provide for their families and homes.
"I met her through sheer coincidence as we changed route last minute," El-Sisi told Amer.
"You waited for years but God eventually rewarded you," the President told Nehmedou.
Sherif Amer interjected saying Nehmdo simply asked for help with car payments because she only wants to continue to work
"This reflects the dignity and modesty of the Egyptian woman who exert effort for their society," the President responded.
"I call on her if she can to give back if she can by contributing to the Tahya Misr Fund."
For Nehmedou, “I call on Egyptians to respect and honour Egyptian women.”
Nehmedou (Snapshot MBC Masr)
The President told Amer that he he meets workers all the time who do not earn a lot of money, but they say they are happy and never complain of harsh living conditions.
“When I see workers on the worksites of the new projects, I get a great sense that they are satisfied. Nobody says ‘we can’t bear the hard living conditions.’ I am talking here about hundreds of thousands of workers and people,” El-Sisi said.
"On the speed of accomplishment in mega projects, the President said "we have to work in as short a time as possible to achieve the levels we aspire to reach."
'The magnitude of the efforts exerted and the numbers of people who are being employed are unprecedented; in every home you find a person or a youth who is somehow working in one of these projects and earning enough to live decently."
El-Sisi told Amer that 2019 will see the opening of many new projects, explaining that his tight schedule sometimes prevents him from being physically present in the opening all these projects by himself.
He also urged the media to explain the picture of current events in a particular European country in a better, more objective way.
"The media has to give a context for the viewers on the specificity of the situation there; what is the exact percentage of increase in fuel prices there, and compare this to the reality of the situation in Egypt.
"We should not be simply report an image of the events, but we have to complete the picture with facts," the President stressed.
“For example , a litre of fuel in Europe costs the equivalent of EGP 25, in addition to a tax of 20 percent, which amounts to EGP 5," that one thing.
"Over there, citizens pay 40 percent of their salaries as taxes,” El-Sisi said, adding that governance realities there mandate everyone pays taxes.
"The media is supposed to enlighten and explain," the President concluded.
Sherif Amer (Snapshot MBC Masr)