Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Egypt's El-Sisi meets head of Sinai development body


President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met on Sunday with the head of the National Agency for the Development of the Sinai Peninsula, a presidential statement said.

Major-General Shawqi Rashwan reported to El-Sisi on ongoing plans for developing the long-neglected and insurgency-stricken peninsula.

Rashwan propsed to El-Sisi, according to the statement, establishing mining companies to create jobs opportunities for young people. He also updated the president on progress in distribution of land to residents whereby 25 percent would be allocated to the native Bedouin population.

The National Body for the Development of the Sinai Peninsula was founded in 2012. It works on developing plans for projects and investment in Sinai and coordinating with the cabinet and other state bodies.

Sinai’s population amounts to about 590,000 residents, mostly native residents.

The Peninsula is divided administratively into two governorates: North Sinai and South Sinai. 

Residents of the rugged central Sinai area have been demanding the creation of a new governorate to accommodate their special needs.

The peninsula as a whole has suffered from lack of investment in basic infrastructure and economic development projects since the end of Israeli occupation in 1982.

However, the southern coastal stretch of the peninsula on the Red Sea has generally fared better than the rest of Sinai due to a thriving tourism industry in and around cities such as Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and Nuweiba.

In the northern part, which overlooks the Mediterranean, the Egyptian army has been battling a decade-long Islamist militant insurgency in the peninsula, which has intensified over the past two years since the ouster of Islamist Mohamed Morsi.