Egyptian Prime Minister praises UAE for support

Sweeping economic and social reform will end Egypt’s reliance on aid from the Arabian Gulf states, its prime minister pledged on Tuesday.

DUBAI // Sweeping economic and social reform will end Egypt’s reliance on aid from the Arabian Gulf states, its prime minister pledged on Tuesday.

Dr Ibrahim Mahlab also predicted imminent success in the military campaign to eradicate the scourge of Al Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula.

“We are clearing Sinai from terrorists, we are very near, we will be clean and clear from all these pockets of terrorism. Already we have made very good steps and will continue, but it will be soon,” Mr Mahlab said on a visit to Dubai to take part in the Arab Media Forum.

The prime minister thanked the UAE and the GCC for their support in the form of economic aid and fuel subsidies, which have been crucial in maintaining stability in Egypt after the turmoil of popular uprisings that removed the president, Hosni Mubarak, and his Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi.

Egyptians vote next week in a presidential election expected to be won by the former army chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimated last week that Egypt was likely to receive Dh66 billion in aid from the GCC this year. “We appreciate the aid from the GCC, we appreciate what they did for Egypt during this transition period,” said Mr Mahlab. “Forget aid, we are working towards cooperation.”

Mr Mahlab said the government in Cairo was looking to rewrite its investment laws to attract foreign direct investment.

“At the end of the day we are looking to complete economic reform. We believe in a win-win, we will create a win-win situation to attract investments. This will be a very good step in the near future.

“We are planning for new reform – economic and social. We are discussing a lot of plans which will be launched soon. We have to face our problem, we have to reform our economy.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed Mr Mahlab. As well as discussing a number of political, economic, and development issues, the two men reviewed the historical fraternal relations and bond between the countries, reported Wam, the state news agency.

“I am here as an Arab citizen. I feel happy when I set foot in Dubai International Airport and I have the same feeling when I leave this Arab city holding fond memories,” said Mr Mahlab.

“It enhances my feelings of pride as it is a unique Arab city which brings together all world cultures and all the people are happy, full of joy and confidence, freedom and hospitality.” He described Dubai as “the city of happiness, modernity and creativity”.

Sheikh Mohammed said that the UAE, since the era of the late Sheikh Zayed and the late Sheikh Rashid, owed Egypt and its people all honour, respect and appreciation. Egyptians were among the first Arab talents that came to the country, especially in the sectors of education and media.

Earlier on Tuesday a gas pipeline supplying the industrial zone in North Sinai was attacked.

On Monday night gunmen killed three Egyptian policemen and wounded nine in a drive-by shooting during an overnight rally by pro-Morsi students at Cairo’s Al Azhar University.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack but two Al Qaeda-inspired groups, one based in Sinai, have carried out scores of similar attacks on military and police targets in recent months.

The Egyptian authorities are keen to maintain stability before the election next week, which Mr Mahlab hopes will pave the way for economic and social reforms.

thamid@thenational.ae

Published: May 20, 2014 04:00 AM

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