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Billionaire eyes $500M investments in his native Egypt

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After years of political turmoil, Egypt has started to welcome back investments with one of its leading businessmen highlighting his optimism for the country.

Egyptian Naguib Sawiris, the chairman of Orascom Telecom and Media, has a net worth $3 billion, according to the latest Forbes list. After three years of restraint, he told CNBC that the time was right to open up his cheque book once again.

Speaking at the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, he said that he had $500 million in cash ready to be invested in Egypt overt he next few years.

This money will go towards sectors like logistics, energy, harbor development and infrastructure, he said, adding that the new government had created a better climate for investments of this kind and has made important reforms on tax rates.

Read MoreIs the money flooding back to Egypt?

Naguib Sawiris
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Egypt, a country of 90 million people, 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. The current President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah 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.

The new regime and the air of optimism on economic reforms hasn't put an end to the violence. President Al-Sisi told CNBC in January that he faces a war on terror and extremism. News reports from the region have included the emergence of an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis.

There has also been an rise in attacks in the run-up to EEDC, with the Financial Times - citing diplomats and security experts - saying that it's more likely to be the work of "lone wolves" rather than established jihadi groups.

The British Foreign Office warn travelers of a high threat from terrorism highlighting groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. The northern region of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has seen the worst of the trouble with the Foreign Office stating that the Ansar Bait-al-Maqdis (ABM) are the most active terrorist group in Egypt, adding that it has pledged allegiance to ISIL.

Attacks have targeted the security forces, their facilities and other government buildings but Western businesses have also been affected. A number of international firms have had their premises attacked with explosives in the greater Cairo region and beyond. Recent media reports show that KFC stores have been firebombed and Vodafone and Carrefour have also been attacked with explosives.

The authorities have stepped up security this weekend's event in the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The conference arena is within the town's guarded perimeter fence but Apache helicopters patrol the skies and armed guards and road checks are prevalent.

Naguib Sawiris told CNBC that terrorism wasn't a "local situation" and is happening across the globe. He said that the violence didn't compare to other countries in the region.

"I've been to Iraq, I can't be complaining," he said.

Sawiris - a member of the Egyptian Christian community - is a vocal critic of the Muslim Brotherhood and told CNBC Friday that it had "decided to become a terror group" since its time as a political organization.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Heikal, the chairman and co-founder of Qalaa Holdings, believes that the returns in Egypt have now started to outweigh the risks.

"Egypt offers phenomenal returns," the Egyptian businessman said on the outskirts of the same event.

"I think we have a once in a lifetime opportunity in areas like power, like water, like utilities, like infrastructure."

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