Egypt Watch

The Economist report on Safwan Thabet hits the constrained Egyptian economy

The Economist has published a report on the Egyptian armed forces’ control of sectors of the local economy. The report said that the economic ambitions of the army were behind the arrest of Egyptian-Palestinian activist Rami Shaath and businessman Safwan Thabet.

The report stated that Shaath’s arrest came as a result of his opposition to attempts by military authorities to push him to share technologies produced by his company.

Shaath said that the dispute between the company he has chaired since 2013 and the authorities dates back to 2017, explaining that his company has been working since the early 1990s to produce electric technology for several government electricity companies. In 2017, his company stopped renewing any contracts with the Ministry of Electricity due to the increasing influence of parties affiliated with the armed forces that wanted to make deals harmful to his company’s interests, he added. Shaath believes that his arrest was also due to his activism in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel.

The Economist also said that Juhayna Food Industries’ problems began when the Egyptian state decided to acquire it. After its founder, Safwan Thabet, refused, he was imprisoned. When his son, Seif, also rejected the same deal, he joined his father in prison. The newspaper questioned the official account linking the Thabet family to terrorist financing. After Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took office in 2014, Thabet donated 50 million Egyptian pounds to the Long Live Egypt Fund. Sisi had accepted money from Thabet’s family, despite their alleged links to terrorism.