Gulf state agrees to bankroll tourism and industry projects over the next five years
Qatar is set to invest $18bn in tourism and industry projects along Egypt's Mediterranean coast over the next five years, the latest pledge of support to an economy hammered by a year and a half of political turmoil.
The projects include $8bn for gas, power and iron and steel plants at the northern entrance to the Suez Canal and $10bn for a giant tourist resort on the Mediterranean coast.
Egypt's stock exchange closed at a 14-month high on Thursday on optimism that a new government with a clear popular mandate will secure investments and donor aid to stave off a balance of payments and budget crisis.
Cairo last month formally asked the International Monetary Fund for $4.8bn in emergency funding.
"We spoke with his Excellency President Mursi and agreed to invest $8bn on a power plant, natural gas and iron steel," Qatar's prime minister, said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. "This will be in a integrated complex in East Port Said."
Sheikh Hamad was speaking at a joint news conference with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil shortly after meeting the country's newly elected president, Mohamed Mursi.
He said the investments in the Port Said projects would extend over five years.
Qatar announced three months after the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak that it was interested in investing near Port Said, but the plan had lain dormant since then.
In the last few months, Egypt has received more than $5bn in loans and pledges, including $2bn in direct budget support from Qatar and loans from Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Development Bank.
Qatar deposited $500m in direct budget support at the Egyptian central bank in August and said it would pay the remaining $1.5bn over the coming three months.
"We agreed on the following dates. At the end of this month will be one portion, the end of October another portion and the end of November another portion," Sheikh Hamad said.
US officials this week said the Obama administration was close to a deal with Egypt's new government for $1bn in debt relief, and on Saturday senior executives of around 50 US corporations begin a visit to Egypt to discuss new investments.