Egypt's president-elect Mohammed Morsi greets the crowd at Tahrir Square Friday. He will be officially sworn in as president Saturday.
Egypt's president-elect Mohammed Morsi greets the crowd at Tahrir Square Friday. He will be officially sworn in as president Saturday.

Morsi vows to be 'president for all Egyptians'



CAIRO // Before cheering throngs in Tahrir Square, Egypt's president-elect Mohammed Morsi pledged yesterday to serve as "a president for all Egyptians" and said his legitimacy as a leader stems solely from the support of the people.

"There is no power above the power of the people," he said. "Today you are the source of this power. You give this power to whoever you want and you withhold it from whoever you want."

In a triumphant speech full of theatrical touches, Mr Morsi pre-empted his official swearing-in today by delivering a symbolic open-air oath of office from the centre of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak 16 months ago. He referred to the official ceremony as "a formality" compared to his true coronation in Tahrir.

"You are the source of all authority and all legitimacy," he shouted from the main stage in the square, surrounded by a very presidential-looking phalanx of security guards. "I am the decision maker now because of the will of the people."

Mr Morsi displayed more charisma yesterday than many of his detractors believed he possessed. The longtime Muslim Brotherhood official, an engineer by training, has long had a reputation as a slightly uninspiring personality who was pressed into service as a candidate only because the more charismatic first-choice Brotherhood candidate, Kheirat Al Shater, was disqualified on a technicality. Mr Morsi's entry into the race as Mr Al Shater's late replacement even earned him a derisive nickname during his campaign: the spare tyre.

But yesterday, Mr Morsi was animated and magnetic, rallying the crowds and gesturing energetically. In a moment of grand political theatre, he opened his suit jacket to display that he was not wearing a bulletproof vest for protection while his bodyguards tried to disguise their looks of horror.

"I come here as one of you. I have nothing to protect me from anyone," he said. "I fear no one but God."

Mr Morsi's symbolic Tahrir Square oath of office was clearly meant to defuse some of the controversy surrounding what critics say was his first major concession to the military and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or Scaf. By tradition and law, Egypt's presidents are sworn into office in front of the Parliament. But the People's Assembly, the lower house of parliament that is controlled by the Brotherhood, was dissolved by court order just days before the June 16-17 presidential run-off. The Muslim Brotherhood refuses to accept the legitimacy of the ruling, calling it a politicised verdict engineered by Scaf.

The struggle over the status of parliament remains a topic of open conflict. But state media reported that Mr Morsi had agreed to instead swear today's oath in front of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court. It is a small concession, but a heavily symbolic one - which critics are already charging represents a crucial surrender to Scaf's will.

In his speech, Mr Morsi did not mention Scaf by name, but made it clear he intends to resist a recent decree by the ruling generals to curb the powers of the president and establish the military as a powerful de facto fourth branch of government essentially free from civilian oversight.

"I promise you that I will not give up on any of the powers given to the president," he declared.

Mr Morsi's speech contained several statements clearly designed to reassure nervous secular activists, women and minority Christians - who fear a Brotherhood plan to strictly impose Islamic law.

He said he envisioned Egypt as a civil state, not a religious one, and pledged to combat corruption and social injustice. He also said he planned to re-establish Egypt as a beacon of both scientific research and artistic creativity. He also hinted at greater independence in Egypt's foreign policy going forward, a possible reference to a willingness to break from Mubarak's policy of sticking closely to the regional interests of the United States.

"I will look after the interests of the people and protect the independence of the nation and the safety of its territory," he said.

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
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Born: Mukalla, Yemen, 1979

Education: UAE University, Al Ain

Family: Married with two daughters: Asayel, 7, and Sara, 6

Favourite piece of music: Horse Dance by Naseer Shamma

Favourite book: Science and geology

Favourite place to travel to: Washington DC

Best advice you’ve ever been given: If you have a dream, you have to believe it, then you will see it.

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Rating: 2/5

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Favourite traditional dish: Al Harees, a slow cooked porridge-like dish made from boiled cracked or coarsely ground wheat mixed with meat or chicken

Favourite book: My early life by Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah

Favourite quote: By Sheikh Zayed, the UAE's Founding Father, “Those who have no past will have no present or future.”

Expo details

Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia

The world fair will run for six months from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021.

It is expected to attract 25 million visits

Some 70 per cent visitors are projected to come from outside the UAE, the largest proportion of international visitors in the 167-year history of World Expos.

More than 30,000 volunteers are required for Expo 2020

The site covers a total of 4.38 sqkm, including a 2 sqkm gated area

It is located adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South

ROUTE TO TITLE

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What went into the film

25 visual effects (VFX) studios

2,150 VFX shots in a film with 2,500 shots

1,000 VFX artists

3,000 technicians

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