Egypt is facing an economic crisis under the al-Sisi regime, with a significant debt burden, poor credit rating, and a rapidly depreciating currency. This was further exacerbated by the impact of the Houthis on the Red Sea and Suez Canal.
Now, according to a Bloomberg report, a $22 billion deal is being considered. The proposed plan involves a consortium from Abu Dhabi purchasing 180 million square meters of land in Ras al-Hakhma, located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The complex is approximately 350 km northwest of Cairo. The signing of the agreement to inject foreign currency into the Egyptian market is imminent.
Egypt will retain ownership of approximately 20% of the area as part of the deal through local partners, including the Talat Mustafa Group and several national companies. It is unlikely that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will receive average prices for land on the northern coast of Egypt from his friend, Mohammed bin Zayed, due to heavy pressure to obtain foreign currency.
The proposed Emirati-Egyptian deal has precedent in terms of purchasing or leasing land from Egypt. In recent years, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have leased approximately 383,000 dunams in the Nile region for agricultural development purposes. Ras al-Hakhma is a coastal area, and it’s possible that this is an Emirati attempt to gain a naval and even military foothold in the Mediterranean.
In 2022, the United Arab Emirates deposited about $5 billion in Egypt’s central bank and ADQ acquired about 18% of International Trade Bank of Egypt’s shares. The same fund also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in drilling companies, petrochemical plants, and Egyptian tobacco companies.