Reports about UAE’s purchase of an Egyptian city near Libya spark controversy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is said to have bought an Egyptian city on the border with Libya (Ras Al-Hikma) for 22 billion dollars, according to reports on social media.

Pro-government Egyptian media denied the news at first, but then started to talk about huge investments worth 20 billion dollars to be invested by foreign entities – without naming them – in Ras Al-Hekma, as some media figures in Egypt said the incoming billions of dollars would be great to alleviating the current problems facing the Egyptian pound.

The reports come amid a foreign currency crisis and a deterioration of the Egyptian pound, which has lost more than half its value in one year in parallel markets, exacerbating inflation.

Controversy and outrage swept through Egyptian social media, with some saying that selling Egyptian land was not a patriotic act but rather a treason to the homeland.

Egypt’s currency plunged this week to an unprecedented low of 72 pounds to the dollar in the parallel market. That rate is significantly below the official exchange rate, which stood at around 31.

Egypt is currently on the verge of agreeing a new financial package with the International Monetary Fund, according to multiple reports. Cairo already has a $3bn IMF package in place, but has received very little of it. That is due to slow progress in the sale of state assets, in exchange rate flexibility and in other economic reforms spelt out by the fund.


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