Sisi Meets with UAE Arabtec to Launch Low-income Housing Project in Egypt

Egypt’s powerful military chief is launching a housing initiative to build a million homes for the poor, in the first campaign-style move by Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who is widely expected to run for president.

Military spokesman Ahmed Ali said on Sunday that the “For Egypt’s Youth” initiative will be established through cooperation between leading UAE construction company Arabtec and the Egyptian armed forces. The collaboration is planned to continue for five years, Ahram Online reported. The initiative is dedicated to “Egypt’s youth” and is a first step to solve the country’s housing problem.

Senior generals close to Sisi have told The Associated Press he is focusing on the country’s myriad of economic problems.

On Sunday, El-Sisi, who is minister of defence, met with managing director of Arabtec Hassan Abdullah Smeik to discuss the details of the project, including where the units will be built, and the time frame of the work.

“This project is the fruit of the wise guidance of [UAE’s crown prince] Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed and his concern for providing support to the current Egyptian leadership for the advancement of Egypt,” said Smeik during the meeting, adding that his company is proud to collaborate with the Egyptian armed forces in establishing “the largest housing project in the Arab region.”

Smeik added that the project will not only provide millions of low-income Egyptians with housing, but will also provide jobs for more than one million people.

The UAE, a staunch opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been a strong supporter of transitional authorities in Egypt. The Gulf state has provided Egypt with almost $7 billion in grants, loans and oil shipments since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Speaking to the Financial Times in February, Mohammed Kandil, political secretary at the Egyptian embassy in Abu Dhabi, said that the UAE is keen on having its aid used to finance “projects that have specific development or non-profit goals and are directed at poor people.”

Sisi hasn’t made an official announcement yet, but has strongly indicated he would run. The elections expected in April are the first since the military ousted elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July following mass protests against him.