Egypt: Will the person who voted for Musa please stand up?

Egyptian women leave a polling station casting their votes at a polling station in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, 120 kilometres north of Cairo, on March 27, 2018 on the second day of the 2018 presidential elections. (AFP)
Updated 28 March 2018
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Egypt: Will the person who voted for Musa please stand up?

CAIRO: He may be one of just two candidates in Egypt’s presidential election, but finding someone in Cairo who is voting for Musa Mustafa Musa is far from an easy task.
Moving from one polling station to another, through Cairo’s busy streets, Arab News struggled to locate a single Musa voter.
Over two long days and with visits to polling stations in Maadi, Sayeda Zayneb, New Cairo and Nasr City, not one person we met was willing to voice their support for the only rival to Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Finally, in one of the polling stations in Agouza, a central district on the banks of the Nile, there was success.
Nadia, a housewife in her 40s living in the neighborhood, said she was supporting Musa.
But her decision was based not on an admiration for his policies or dislike of the incumbent.
“Well, I am here to support Musa Mustafa Musa because I don’t want the election results to look bad,” Nadia said with a smile.
El-Sisi won 97 percent of the vote in 2014, and is assured of victory when the three days of voting end on Wednesday.
The opposition has claimed the government deterred other potential rivals through a strategy of intimidation.
Musa has been unashamed in saying his candidacy is essentially in support of El-Sisi.
During the election campaign, the leader of the secular and centrist Al Ghad party even produced a banner supporting El-Sisi. “We support you for another presidential term,” it said.
As a result, his efforts have been viewed with a degree of ridicule.
On Twitter, a hashtag created by his campaign and containing Musa’s name has been trending due to the number of jokes about his candidacy.
One tweet said: “Go back to sleep Hajj Musa, we will wake you up once El-Sisi wins.”
Musa dismisses accusations he is being used to present a false sense of competition, and the electoral commission says it will ensure the vote is fair and transparent.
The candidate earlier said his last-minute decision to challenge El-Sisi was intended to rescue Egypt. The constitution will not allow a sole contender.
“If he falls, we all fall,” Musa said in a television interview.
The strange circumstances mean that Musa is warmly received among El-Sisi voters.
“We are not doing enough to thank you (Musa). Even a whole century of appreciation is not enough. You have proved that you are a true soldier of Egypt”, said Mona El-Ashry, Cairo resident and an El-Sisi supporter.
Musa said during his campaign that he expects to win 20-25 percent of the vote with the help of 7,500 campaigners.
But judging by the response at polling stations during the first two days of voting, the chances that one out of five people will vote for him seem slim.
Meanwhile, El-Sisi has fended off questions about the lack of opposition.
“It is not my fault,” he said in a recent interview. “I wished there would have been more candidates for people to choose who they want. But they were not ready yet, there is no shame in this.”
Egyptian authorities arrested former army Gen. Sami Anan in January, saying his candidacy breached the laws of his military service.
Former prime minister Ahmed Shafik and human-rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced their candidacies, but withdrew later.


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 51 min 18 sec ago
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Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.