The Egyptian Revolution, which during its early days inspired the entire world, has now turned into a variety of riddles, puzzles and mysteries, which many analysts and observers of Egyptian affairs are trying to understand and decode. However, there remains an important matter which has not yet taken its share of the discussion and attention, alongside political differences, sectarian violence and security stability. I am, of course, talking about the current economic situation in Egypt. Today, the alarming figures surrounding the Egyptian economic scene cannot be overlooked. These figures disturbingly reflect a situation that, at the very least, can be described as extremely dangerous. The Central Bank of Egypt is warning against a sharp decline in private reserves of hard foreign currency, and has been forced to declare an emergency and borrow money from the World Bank. The Ministry of Tourism has announced a large decrease in tourism, and revenue rates have fallen by around 53 percent. Foreign investment into Egypt, according to official figures, has declined to zero since the outbreak of the revolution, whilst the revenues generated by the Suez Canal have also suffered significant decline, and unemployment rates continue to rise at an alarming pace.
Since the outbreak of the revolution, the new regime in Egypt has decided to fight the rampant corruption which previously inflicted substantial damage upon the Egyptian economy. Nevertheless, the calling-to-account process has been tinged with revenge, and rejoicing at the downfall of members of the former regime, rather than matters being conducted according to the principles of justice and accountability. We have also noticed a tendency for certain issues relating to specific countries to be highlighted more than others, according to the politicization of the issue, which is something that affects and distorts the accountability process. The attempt to highlight the Gulf companies for example, particularly Saudi Arabian and UAE companies, and claim that they were colluding with the former regime with regards to their investments in Egypt, is an extremely selective approach. Otherwise, how can we explain the strange silence towards Libyan, Lebanese, European and other investment projects, all of which were carried out with the knowledge and cooperation of members of the former regime, who are being tried and held to account today?
For instance, Saudi Arabia and the UAE did not invest in a specific regime or specific figures, but rather with a state and people that have their own history and status. It is high time we spoke the truth with regards to the general situation in Egypt, in order to utilize reason, logic, and wisdom to cast light on false claims, even if this goes against the popularly held views, which insists upon vilifying the Gulf investors, which is a gross lie.
Regardless of the internal division or the foreign intervention, the regimes and people who have proven their love and support for Egypt over the years, and under different governments and rulers, should not be made to suffer. These figures and countries have shown that they are a friend to Egypt, regardless of who is in power. History is a prime testimony to what I am saying. The issue here is to clarify and acknowledge the truth, rather than listening to groundless rumors and hearsay being circulated for “specific” reasons which will become clear in time. Every new situation brings with it those who will benefit, regardless of good intentions. However it remains the role of the rulers and those in power to stabilize the situation; they must put general welfare first, and realize the consequences of being recklessly carried away by the idea of incriminating others and labeling them as traitors. They must realize the price of creating such havoc, no matter how tempting or attractive it may be in the short-term.
The process of building bridges based upon mutual trust needs to be a continuous approach without lies or deceit; an approach based on facts, constants and figures. The incrimination of Gulf investors in post-revolution Egypt will send a dangerous message to Egyptian and Gulf citizens, and subsequently to international investors. Reality dictates that Egyptian – Gulf relations are vital, and will remain vital, regardless of changes of regime or leadership. We must be aware of the practical difference between calling people to account, and seeking revenge. Any and all fabrications or lies that are spread via the media today, regarding relations between the Gulf States, their rulers, investors and Egypt, must be condemned, This should be treated as a matter of national security, in order to curb the spread of false information. It is high time we listened to the wise, rational people ho have Egypt’s best interests at heart, even if some of their views appear to contradict the views of the mainstream.