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Egypt: Citizens in Sinai Hope to Turn Terror Page Through Development

Egypt: Citizens in Sinai Hope to Turn Terror Page Through Development

Wednesday, 14 March, 2018 - 10:30
An Egyptian military vehicle is seen on the highway in northern Sinai, Egypt. Reuters

Many people in Sinai are all hopes for an end to their suffering in the long war against "terrorist groups" that have been active in the vast province for years.

After President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the formation of a presidential committee on the use of land plots to achieve the desired development in line with state policies, some people from Sinai believed there may be an end to their suffering in sight.

They told Asharq Al-Awsat that they are about to close the chapter of "terrorism" to open a new one.

According to recent data, North Sinai, which covers an area of around 27,500 square kilometers, has 500,000 inhabitants, but most of them live in areas close to the coastline overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The area has almost no development project.

Arif Abu Akar, a sheikh from al-Akkur tribe, told Asharq Al-Awsat, however, that Sisi’s recent decision to start implementing the development project is a major change for the people, who have often received promises without action on the ground.

“All the mega projects that have been launched target Sinai, especially the tunnels that facilitate transportation to the east of the Suez Canal. They push for overcoming the current crisis, control the situation and restore security in the province,” Akar added.

For years, the Egyptian army has been carrying out operations in the Sinai Peninsula to hunt down groups of militants, most of them ISIS members. Last month, the armed forces and the police launched a "comprehensive confrontation" to restore security.

Head of the Central Administration for Investment in the National Agency for the Development of Sinai Adel Mohsen told Asharq Al-Awsat that "the government, along with its various agencies, is determined to turn North Sinai into an Egyptian, Arab and international investment area through the use of the governorate’s lands in various projects."

Sisi stressed late February, that the comprehensive development process in Sinai is estimated at a total cost of about 275 billion pounds.

"The development of North Sinai will contribute to attracting residents from the valley and the delta, especially in light of the continued focus on infrastructure projects," explained the head of Bir al-Abed city Nasrullah Mohammed.

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