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Monday, March 16, 2015

Are You Watching the Economic Conference?

Over the past three days, the news here has been dominated by the Egyptian economic conference being held at Sharm el-Sheikh.  As the conference approached, we heard many people describing the increased security in Sharm el-Sheikh and a tremendous increase in the price of rooms there during the conference.  If you look at Egypt Daily News now, you will see a large number of articles about the conference.   Here is a bit of a summary on Bloomberg news and another at Forbes.

Perhaps the conference was not as widely followed back home as here.  On Friday afternoon, out taxi driver had the opening speech by president Sisi on the radio instead of the usual Koranic verses that we hear on a ride.  There were over 2000 delegates to the conference and you can see some important ones sitting in the front row as Sisi spoke.
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I'm guessing that the man in the middle of the picture is following Sisi's speech on a paper copy and not just sleeping.  U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, seemed wide awake in spite of the long trip.

However, when he said this during his speech a half hour later:
President Sisi has engaged on a bold and critical path to implement reforms. He’s committed to restoring investor confidence in Israel’s future.”
the State Department was quick to blame it on the trip and tweeted out this explanation: "All night flight+morning event=unintended slip (wrong country!)"

The conference was well attended by some 2000 delegates and if you follow those links at the top of this post you will find a number of financial commitments being made.  Much of the focus is on energy, transportation and the announcement of plans to build a large new Capital city to the east of Cairo.

If you are not familiar with the current project to expand the Suez Canal, read the Wikipedia entry and note, in particular, this sentence:
The construction of the new canal itself was initially scheduled to take five years. It was then first reduced to three years and finally ordered by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to be completed in one year only.
Sisi definitely is a "big picture" leader.

For more on the economic conference, titled Egypt the Future, follow this link.  Here in Cairo, that ugly scar from the revolution discussed back in this post was covered with a promotional banner.

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