Saudi businessmen investing $4 billion in projects in Egypt

bin mahfuz copy

CAIRO / Reuters

Saudi businessmen are investing $4 billion in projects including the Suez Canal, energy and agriculture, and have already deposited 10 percent of that sum in Egyptian banks, the deputy head of the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council told Reuters, two days before Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visits Cairo.
Egypt has been struggling to attract foreign investors since an uprising in 2011 drove them away and left it short of the dollars that it relies on for imports of everything from food to medicines and petroleum
“Ten percent of the capital has been deposited in Egyptian banks, they will complete 25 percent within three months,” Abdallah bin Mahfouz said in an interview. He said there would also be investments in the medical sector.
Bin Mahfouz said the government had been making efforts to resolve difficulties faced by nine Saudi-owned firms in securing official permits for their projects, and that he expected to see progress soon.
“A positive meeting took place on April 2 with Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid and the Saudi commercial attache … along with representatives of the companies facing hurdles,” he said. Bin Mahfouz said the Egyptian market was an attractive one, and any short-term instability would not have a major effect on the sentiment of the new Saudi investors, whose investments were for the medium to long term.
At the end of 2015, there were 3,302 Saudi-owned companies in Egypt, with a total capital of $27.9 billion, Bin Mahfouz said.
Egypt’s foreign currency reserves have fallen from $36 billion in 2011 to $16.56 billion last month. It says it is aiming for foreign direct investment of around $8-10 billion in 2015/16.
On Thursday, during King Salman’s visit, Saudi Arabia is expected to sign a $20 billion deal to finance Egypt’s petroleum needs for the next five years and a $1.5 billion deal to develop its Sinai region, two Egyptian government sources told Reuters.

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