The UAE signalled its support on Tuesday for Egypt’s social and economic resurgence with key development projects that will benefit more than 10 million Egyptians.
The landmark projects include 100 new schools, 78 health clinics and four road bridges, and the delivery of 600 buses that will transform public transport in Cairo. The development programme is expected to create about 900,000 jobs, many of them permanent.
The new schools will enhance Egypt’s existing education programme by expanding youth education and combating illiteracy. The medical clinics in rural areas will address challenges in providing women with health care and children with vaccinations.
The new bridges, in three different regions, and hundreds more buses will reduce traffic congestion and road accidents.
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and head of the UAE-Egypt liaison office, signed the agreements on Tuesday, alongside the Egyptian prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab.
The projects will address real challenges in several vital sectors, Mr Mahlab said.
“Egyptians appreciate and greatly value the support of the UAE leadership and its people.
“We will not forget this unwavering stand and its contribution to the citizens of Egypt who need it the most.
“These projects reflect tangible proof of the breadth and depth of our relations and the strength of our decades long historic ties.”
Stability has been largely restored in Egypt since Abdel Fattah El Sisi was elected president in June last year, but economic challenges remain.
The next move to tackle them comes on Thursday with the official opening of the new Suez Canal, extended and widened in record time with UAE support at a cost of US$9 billion, about Dh33bn.
The expanded trade route between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean will cut the waiting period for vessels from 18 hours to 11 and the number of ships that can use the canal daily will increase from 49 to 97 in eight years.
Egyptians have already reaped the rewards of UAE investment with the 10MW solar power plant in Siwa and 50,000 new homes delivered to the ministry of housing in June.
Dr Al Jaber said all projects were chosen based on the objective of immediate, positive and sustainable impact and the social and economic well being of Egyptians.
“The UAE has historically placed great importance on education and health care as catalysts for sustainable growth – and as such, these were the first projects prioritised,” he said.
“I believe that the collaboration, continued coordination and diligent follow up with our partners in Egypt was the key to our collective success.”
New schools in rural villages will have 1,668 classrooms for 67,000 children in their first year.
The schools will also contribute to a reduction in dropout rates caused by long travelling distances and over-crowded classrooms.
The health clinics will provide 780,000 rural residents with easy and immediate access to health care and meet nearly 20 per cent of their immediate requirements.
Additional bridges will provide close to three million commuters easy road access and reduce congestion and road accidents. They will account for 15 per cent of the planned bridge construction programme in Egypt, covering 5 per cent of the railway crossing reduction programme.
Locations of schools were carefully chosen to ensure they targeted the largest possible population of children, with a division between 56 schools in coastal areas and 44 inland.
Dr Moheb Al Rifaii, Egypt’s minister of education said: “These schools will serve nearly 10 per cent of our Egyptian population – especially in rural areas, which will directly reduce drop-out rates and chronic tardiness, traditionally a result of a lack of proximity, and help reduce illiteracy rates in Egypt at large.”
Half of the buses will be manufactured in Abu Dhabi and will be fitted out with special water-cooled engines and high-tech equipment for safety, control and automatic speed operation.