Qatari businessmen invest US$18 bn in Egypt

Qatari businessmen plan to invest US$18 billion in Egypt, according to the head of the Egyptian-Qatari Business Council.

The Qatari prime minister said the investments, which include $8 billion in Suez and $10 billion in the North Coast, would be complete within five years, according to council head Moharram Helal, an Egyptian.

The prime minister’s comments came during a meeting to establish the council last week, at which its Egyptian members were selected.

Ahmed Abu Heshima, vice president of the council, told Al-Masry Al-Youm on the sidelines of the meeting that he predicts that the proposed Egyptian-Qatari industrial zone provides about a million jobs

Abu Heshima added that the region will witness the development of intensive energy consuming industries, such as fertilizers, cement, iron and compressed sponge.

He called for protecting local industry by imposing high tariffs on similar imported products, while helping investors purchase industrial land.

Helal said that Egyptian workers would be the main beneficiaries of the development of Egyptian-Qatari relations, especially since Qatar has abolished an Egyptian quota system, which sets a maximum limit for Egyptians working there.

Ahmed al-Wakil, head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, said Sunday that the two countries conduct $354 million worth of trade a year, according to federation statistics.

Wakil said this was a weak amount, identifying Qatar as only the 17th largest investor in Egypt with 106 companies and total investments of $568 million. He said this number was low compared to Qatar’s investments worldwide.

The board of the Egyptian-Qatari Business Council was approved on Sunday. The Egyptian side includes Moharram Helal as president, as well as former Arab Contractors president Ibrahim Mahlab, businessman Ahmed Abu Heshima and businesswoman Abir Essam Eddin.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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