Egypt President: We’ll create a model civilization

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Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, has told international investors the country will create a model for Arab and Islamic society and will stand up to terrorists in the region.

Speaking at the inaugural Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC), an economic event in the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh designed to bring money into the country, he detailed the reforms that his new government has already begun.

He called the country the "new Egypt" and said it will be a model democratic society. He highlighted that his economic plans will seek to address issues of social justice employment, opportunities to the youth and stability to the region.

"(It will be a) balanced development that is fair and just," he said.


The EEDC this weekend is an attempt to put Egypt back on the world map for investors and trumpet the reforms that have coincided with improving economic data. Development of the Suez Canal and a new administrative city on the outskirts of Cairo are just two of the focal points for the event.

The event at Sharm El-Sheikhalso comes just days after the announcement of a cut to Egypt's top tax rate. The EEDC is being billed as a key milestone for the government's medium-term economic development plan and will feature names such as Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic advisor at Allianz. Bob Dudley,the group chief executive of BP, will also be attending after the oil major announced a $12 billion investment in the country.

However, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization, has already warned that the EEDC seems "increasingly disconnected from reality."

"(It) may run the risk to simply disappoint, even if it is deemed successful by any reasonable standards," Mohamed El Dahshan, a senior cooperation officer at the African Development Bank, said in a blog post on the Institute's website Friday.

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Egypt, a country of 90 million, has seen a tumultuous four years. In 2011, the country was plunged into mayhem during the Arab Spring uprising in the region which saw former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ousted from power. Mubarak was replaced by Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood organization.

Morsi was later ousted by the Egyptian military in 2013 as more secular Egyptians complained increasingly about Morsi's perceived restrictive and religious policies. Al-Sisi was the former head of Egypt's armed forces at the time and was an instrumental figure in the government that took over power. In June 2014, he won the subsequent presidential election.

In a wide-ranging speech, the President thanked his fellow Arab nations and praised the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He went on to denounce all terrorism, and reinforced his view that Egypt should defend its neighbors and respect all parties.

"(Egypt) defends and does not attack," he said, addressing the audience with 1,700 delegates expected at the event.


Human rights

There's an optimistic mood for Egypt and an economic turnaround and improved stability is seen as key for the region by many of its Middle Eastern neighbors. However, the new government hasn't been without its controversies. Human rights groups have slammed the new regime for what they see as aggressive policing and the reversal fragile gains since the country's 2011 uprising.

New-York based Human Rights Watch said in a January report that Al-Sisi has presided over a "state of impunity that has allowed security forces to get away with mass killings while imprisoning hundreds of peaceful protesters." U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House said in February that Egypt's courts have become a "tool of repression rather than a pillar of justice."

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The country is still a key ally for the U.S. and Secretary of State John Kerry has thrown his weight behind the economic progress made by Egypt. Kerry is due at the economic conference Friday and has stated he has a role in helping the government to stabilize and grow the economy. A press statement from Kerry's department this week also said that the U.S. needs to "help realize the aspirations of the Egyptian people for an inclusive, rights- and freedoms-respecting, and peaceful political climate."

Ahmed Heikal, the chairman and co-founder of Qalaa Holdings, told CNBC Friday that the interior ministry of Egypt is currently under enormous pressure. The Egyptian businessman also threw his weight behind Al-Sisi saying that the human rights abuses have not been condoned by the government.

"The distinction between human rights issues on one hand and terrorism on another hand, those they have to be made extremely separate," he told CNBC on the outskirts of the event.