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Protect Egypt's Allure - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Egypt is not just for the Egyptians, but for all the Arabs, as Egypt continues to play an influential role [in the region] from politics to literature, and art to economics. This influence waxes and wanes, but is continuously present, and as I previously said – and this remains my conviction – if Egypt experiences good fortune, so too will the situation in the Arab region, and vice versa.

Therefore Egypt President Hosni Mubarak did well when he said that institutions endure, but individuals are transitory, and the [Egyptian] constitution is the guarantee and power which stands above everything else. Egypt is not a company or a small institution which can be governed by a board of trustees, something which was put forward recently in Cairo in the context of discussing Egypt’s future. Egypt is facing a number of important deadlines in the future, such as the forthcoming midterm Shura elections, followed by parliamentary elections, and then the presidential elections. In fact the idea of a board of trustees [governing Egypt] is absurd, and suggests that those who were adolescents during the time of Jamal Abdul Nasser remain adolescent today.

During his speech to the annual conference of the ruling party in Cairo, President Mubarak said “we have seen a significant boom in foreign investment, rising from less than two billion dollars in 2005 to an annual average of over 10 billion dollar.” There are important implications to this which relates to Egypt’s past and present and clarify why we have described this [idea of a board of trustees] as adolescent.

When the idea of a board of trustees was put forward in Egypt, this would entail abolishing Egypt’s constitution and institutions, and would also be of grave concern and even alienate Egypt’s foreign investors, whether they are establishing a company worth millions of dollars, or just buying a flat worth 100,000 Egyptian pounds. This is because this [idea of a board of trustees] will remind the investors of the nationalization undertaken by Abdul Nasser, and which seems to be an idea for the adolescents of yesterday and today, and which ultimately caused investors to lose confidence in Egypt.

The simple question here is; what guarantee is there against a popular ruler with fake slogans taking power and for example, taking the decision which results in my money – as an investor – disappearing?

For despite the wars which have affected Lebanon, and the internal unrest and the unrest seen along the border with Israel, we are able to find those willing to invest in Lebanon, and particularly in real estate. The simple reason for this is that despite the crises and wars in Lebanon, nobody has lost ownership of their property, while nationalization has hurt even those that loved this policy and supported the Abdul Nasser regime.

Egypt is a large and influential country, and it far too large to act as a guinea pig [for the idea of a Board of Trustees government] or be the scene for the re-emergence of dusted down old ideas. Egypt is a stabilizing factor for the entire region, and a vital strength to the Red Sea countries, not to mention the Arab world as a whole. Egypt also acts as a safety valve in the face of religious extremism ad sectarianism, and it is difficult to accept the idea that this country can be governed by a board of trustees, or by a [religious] guide. Egypt must be a young state, even if its age can be traced back for centuries, and it must also be a state made up of institutions and independent parties, rather than religious parties or parties with external inclinations, because institutions are the anchors which secure stability and confidence in the state.

Therefore we say to the people of Egypt, protect Egypt’s allure.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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