Egypt government allots land in Sinai for locals

Ahram Online, Tuesday 18 Feb 2014

Egypt's government allocates 20 percent of agricultural lands offered in Sinai to locals

Bedouins in Al-Arish city, North Sinai (Photo: AP)

Egypt's Sinai locals will be granted the right to own agricultural land in the peninsula, Al-Ahram daily newspaper reported earlier this week, citing Minister of Agriculture Ayman Farid Abu-Hadid.

The ministry has offered 40000 feddan (16.800 hectares) to investors by the end of February with 20 percent (8000 feddan) allocated to locals in a closed bid.

Buyers will pay 15 percent of the land value in cash; the remaining sum will be paid over a 25-year time period. The government has set an ownership ceiling of 20 feddan (8.4 hectares) per person and 300 feddan per family.

"Owners can resell the land to Egyptians form Sinai or other areas after eight years," Hesham Fadel, head of ownership department in the General Authority for Reconstruction Projects and Agricultural Development (GARPAD) told Ahram Online.

Fadel said that the government will conclude contracts with farmers stipulating the crops to be cultivated to avoid land fragmentation.

In October 2012, former Prime Minister Hisham Qandil issued a decision allowing for land ownership in the Sina Peninsula to be owned for investment purposes by residents. Non-Egyptians were only given the right to usufruct this land.

At the time, those applying to purchase land plots in Sinai were required to present two documents: proof that they do not have a second nationality and a certificate confirming that both of their parents are Egyptian.

Since its liberation from Israeli occupation more than 30 years ago, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has suffered from serious underdevelopment and what residents describe as neglect by the government.

Following Egypt's 2011 popular uprising, the peninsula has also suffered from rising levels of insecurity and lawlessness.

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