On Saturday, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli toured a number of national projects – both completed and under construction – in North Sinai. Madbouli was accompanied by seven ministers and the governor of North Sinai.
In a press conference following the tour, Madbouli hailed President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s “wise decision” to conduct anti-terrorism campaigns in tandem with development schemes.
“In recent years we have been fighting terrorism and also implementing major national projects,” said Madbouli. He pointed out that if the two processes had not gone hand in hand, and development projects had been put on hold, the cost of those already completed would have multiplied.
In February 2018, Al-Sisi announced that the government had earmarked LE275 billion to secure the future of Sinai. Three years later, Madbouli said projects to develop and populate the peninsula “have cost [the state] LE700 billion so far and are central to Egypt’s national security objectives”.
Madbouli inspected projects in Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and in Arish, the governorate’s capital and largest city. He visited the port of Arish, which before being developed covered just 50 feddans. It has now been turned into an international port covering 540 feddans, with new 13-metre-deep docks.
“This port, which was once used for fishing and exporting salt, today is an important facility for the export of all goods produced in North Sinai,” said Madbouli.
He inspected Arish Hospital to follow up on the developments of new buildings which “will raise the level of services so they match those citizens receive in other parts of Egypt”.
Madbouli also inspected housing projects in Arish as well as the main power station in Al-Masaid neighbourhood and a sea water desalination plant, both of which are in their trial phase.
Madbouli said the power station, which is responsible for generating electricity not only for the city of Arish but for other regions in the governorate, has an initial operating capacity of 350 megawatts, and will eventually produce 700 megawatts. The seawater desalination plant will have a capacity of 300,000 m3/day when fully completed, benefiting 1.5 million citizens. Currently, it has a capacity of 100,000 m3/day, sufficient for the residents of North Sinai governorate.
The prime minister also toured the University of Arish, which includes 11 faculties and serves 7,300 students from the governorate, and the newly renovated Court of First Instance.
During the press conference the prime minister said he had visited the new city of Rafah during his trip. When completed, the new city will comprise more than 10,000 housing units and 400 Bedouin houses, and offer all the services expected in a modern city.
In Sheikh Zuweid, Madbouli visited the electricity transformation project.
“[Our] presence today in the governorate, the volume of works and projects implemented in it, and the ability to move safely through its roads and squares, would not have been achieved without the sacrifices of thousands of martyrs from the Armed Forces, police, and civilians,” said Madbouli.
Terrorist attacks in North Sinai have declined following a series of security and military operations. Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 succeeded in almost completely eradicating terrorism from North Sinai as well as the Nile Delta and desert areas.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 19 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.