Egypt’s El Sisi preaches peace at fourth World Youth Forum

President credits economic reforms, national health projects for better coping with pandemic

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi delivers his opening remarks at the World Youth Forum on Monday in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El Sheikh. Photo: The Arab Republic of Egypt Presidency

Humanity needs to forge peace to overcome the world’s biggest challenges, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said on Monday.

He spoke at the opening of the fourth World Youth Forum, a four-day meeting that unites hundreds of young people from around the world to discuss ideas and exchange professional experience.

The forum is held in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El Sheikh in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

Mr El Sisi said the gathering serves as a tool to exchange ideas “at this defining moment of human history”.

“Humanity has no way of overcoming the challenges its very existence faces and the current crisis except through good intentions and ending conflicts,” he said.

Later in the day, the president told delegates that his economic reform programme, which began in 2016, had prepared Egypt well to endure the fallout of the pandemic.

He said Egypt’s GDP in the financial years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 had grown by 3.6 and 3.3 per cent, respectively.

Egypt’s financial year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the start of their talks in Monday in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.  Photo: The Arab Republic of Egypt Presidency

The reforms have centred on a sharp devaluation of the local currency, the gradual lifting of state subsidies on basic goods and the introduction of new taxes. They triggered steep rises in prices that hit the poor and middle classes hardest.

Mr El Sisi also praised Egypt’s handling of the pandemic, said a brief lockdown in 2020 and a subsequent resumption of economic activity coupled with safety measures had averted an economic meltdown. He also said his government’s stimulus programme and mega-infrastructure projects had helped the country to survive the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

He also said a recent series of nationwide health initiatives to combat chronic diseases had helped Egyptians cope better with the pandemic. The president said up to 20 per cent of those who have been infected with Covid-19 in Egypt – nearly 400,000, according to official figures – could have died had it not been for those programmes. About 22,000 people have died of the disease, according to official figures.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati also attended the event.

Updated: January 10th 2022, 4:27 PM