Orascom Development has regained possession of Amoun Island in Aswan, which it says it owns, in cooperation with the Egyptian General Company for Tourism (EGOTH), it said in a statement to the bourse on Tuesday.
The issue of the ownership of the neighbouring islands of Amoun and Qelada, located in the Nile, triggered controversy after videos circulated on social media in November showing clashes between residents on Qelada and Orascom-hired private security guards, who were asking the residents to leave the island. Orascom was not able at the time to begin its planned construction work.
In the Tuesday statement, Orascom said it is currently studying the development work that will be implemented on the island.
EGOTH, owned by Egyptian government through the Holding Company for Tourism And Hotels, said in a statement in November that it owns Amoun Island, with its chairwoman Mervat Hataba explaining that there is a partnership between EGOTH and Orascom to develop the island and to build on it.
She asserted that Orascom Development does own Qelada Island via a registered contract.
Hataba said that the joint projects on the islands should have been built ten years ago; however, a number of Nubian people opposed the project and obstructed the development.
Samih Sawiris, CEO of Orascom Development, said in November during a phone call to the Al-Qahera Al-Aan programme on Al-Hadath channel that his company had bought Qelada Island from the heirs of Antoine Qelada before 2011, with the aim of building a project on it. According to him, the Qelada family had owned the island for more than 70 years.
He said that the evacuation by the security guards came under the approval of the state and with an order from the prosecution.
He explained that Orascom and EGOTH were going to build hotels on Qelada and Amoun.
Sawiris claimed that after the 2011 revolution and the unrest that followed it, some people claimed ownership of the two islands, and ever since Orascom and EGOTH have been having trouble implementing their projects.
He has called on the government to intervene as a mediator.
Minister of Public Business Sector Hesham Tawfik said in a statement late November that the ministry will be coordinating with the Ministry of Interior to evacuate the islands, to enable Orascom to build their hotel.
A lawyer for eight families affected by the eviction, Sherif Hassan, told Al-Mal newspaper that the families have a proof of ownership of some parts of the lands on the islands, and will take their case to court.