Al-Sisi and bin Zayed’s investment platform: Selling Egyptian assets

Egyptian Planning Minister Hala al-Saeed raised concerns about the loss of state assets in favor of the UAE when she made explanatory statements about the investment platform between Egypt and the UAE.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have announced the creation of a $20 billion investment platform.

The minister, who chaired the board of directors of the sovereign fund, said during a conference of the American Chamber that Egypt will participate in the fund using state assets to be annexed to the sovereign fund, while the UAE side through Abu Dhabi Holding Company will provide liquidity.

Hala pointed to the sale of Egyptian state assets and the transfer of those assets to the Egyptian sovereign fund Tharaa. Egypt and the UAE will invest in the platform at 50 per cent each.

Ayman Suleiman, chief executive officer of the Egyptian sovereign wealth fund, confirmed that the investment platform will not be limited to the two countries only, and will include other markets in the region. It will work in the agriculture and food processing, financial services, logistics, real estate, and tourism sectors.

However, experts expressed fears of this step, and warned that it contributes to the sale of Egyptian property and assets and the participation of a foreign country, and the loss of Egyptian sovereignty in favour of that state.

Economists stressed that this step means practically selling these assets and the partnership of the foreign state in them.

The loss of Egyptian sovereignty over the assets of the Egyptian state was not the only concern raised by financial and economic experts.

Hani Suleiman, chairman of the Leadership Development Group (LDG), says the UAE is aiming to control the Suez Canal as a shipping route for trade that rivals the Gulf route that runs through the Emirates itself, Arabi 21 reported.

Suleiman expressed his concern over the “political and economic interference of the UAE in Egypt,” pointing out that the intervention of the UAE “politically seeks to pre-empt and crackdown on any signs of a revolt by Arab people against dictatorships.”

Economically, the UAE seeks to control the financial capabilities of these Arab people and turn them to their own interests. “

In turn, the Egyptian academic Adel Doban said that “the sovereign fund is a backend for the sale of state property to foreigners.”

He pointed out that “the goal of the establishment of the sovereign fund is to enter into partnerships with the Gulf countries, and then to sell a range of assets and property to those countries.”

He added that “the problem in that there is no one who can determine what assets have been sold and assessed, only a small group working for the fund. There is no control and no audit, whether from the House of Representatives or from the Central Auditing Organisation.”

Doban posted on Facebook that the role of parliament, which is supposed to “review all agreements with foreign countries, to discuss and approve or reject it multiplies the problem.” 

He stressed that “the transfer of state assets and property to the sovereign fund and the participation of these assets in partnership with a foreign country simply means it has been sold.”

Journalist Sayed Saber asked why Egypt has to pay the UAE EGP 20 billion.

He replied: “Egypt has the assets of the state, the buildings of the ministries that will be transferred to the administrative capital, the islands of Warraq and other islands and nature reserves, and vast uninhabited lands. Egypt has a political decision and international and historical weight that will go into the hands of the UAE, [which has] cheap labour.”

Saber reiterated that the Emirati academic Abdel Khaliq Abdullah spoke at Abu Dhabi forum a week ago saying that the UAE and Saudi Arabia will shape the region and protect Arab national security in the next 50 years with their money.

He meant that the two countries would seek to control the assets and decisions of the states of the region.