CAIRO: India looks forward to pumping additional investments into Egypt amounting to about $700 million in the coming few years, New Delhi’s ambassador in Cairo has said.
Ajit Gupte told a meeting of Egyptian and Indian businessmen in Cairo that Indian investments in Egypt currently stand at $3.15 billion.
He said Indian companies are implementing a number of important projects in Egypt.
Larsen & Toubro has implemented the Toshka 2 — Wadi Halfa project for the transmission of electricity with a capacity of 220 kilovolts, while Sterling & Wilson has built solar power plants with a total capacity of 250 MW in five projects in Aswan, at a value of $250 million.
Vatek Wabag is currently implementing 10 water treatment projects in Egypt for the benefit of a number of Egyptian institutions, bringing the total number of the company’s projects to 20, according to Gupte.
He invited Indian companies to invest in Egypt and benefit from the various free trade agreements concluded by Egypt with companies and regional trade blocs.
He explained that sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical devices, renewable energy projects, fertilizers and construction equipment are potential areas that Indian companies can consider investing in to expand their presence in the world.
He also invited Egyptian companies to consider investing in India, especially in the food industry, information and financial technology, engineering equipment and auto parts.
CAIRO: Egypt said it had protested to the UN Security Council on Friday against Ethiopian plans to fill the reservoir of a controversial Nile dam for a third year without agreement from downstream countries.
The multibillion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile is set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa but has been at the center of a dispute with Egypt and Sudan ever since work began in 2011.
Egypt “received a message from the Ethiopian side on July 26, stating that Ethiopia would continue filling the reservoir of the Renaissance Dam during the current flood season,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
In response, Egypt wrote to the UN Security Council “to register its objection and complete rejection of Ethiopia’s continuation of filling the Renaissance Dam unilaterally without a deal.”
Mohamed Nasr Allam, Egypt’s former irrigation minister, told Arab News that the Egyptian move is a step on the right path. “We have moved from complaining to demanding that the UN Security Council play an active role in this case.”
It is the affirmation of Egypt’s legitimate rights to defend its national interests, he said, adding: “I see that the tone has become more powerful than before.”
Mohamed Mahmoud Mahran, a specialist in international river disputes and a member of the American Society of International Law, said if the UNSC sees a threat to international peace and security in connection with a conflict, it must intervene immediately to maintain security.
“The Renaissance Dam threatens the lives of over 150 million Sudanese and Egyptian citizens. If no agreement is reached and Ethiopia acts unilaterally, and if the UNSC doesn’t intervene, it could lead to unprecedented scenarios and spark a regional war.”
GILGIT: When he scaled K2 last week, Saeed Al-Memari became the first Emirati to reach the top of the world’s most-dangerous mountain, a feat that he told Arab News has also become a milestone in his “special mission of peace.”
The 8,611-meter-tall K2 is located in the Karakoram mountain range, which lies partly in the Gilgit-Baltistan portion of the Kashmir region under the administration of Pakistan and partly in a Chinese-administered enclave of Kashmir within the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.
It is the world’s second-highest mountain after Mount Everest (8,849 meters), and is known as the Savage Mountain because its challenging terrain and treacherous weather make it one of the most difficult peaks to climb. One in every six people trying to try and climb K2 has died in the attempt.
I have climbed more than 100 mountains around the world so far. And this (K2) was a big challenge for me but, by the blessing of God, I made it.
On July 22, Al-Memari joined the record number of 87 climbers who have summited K2 this summer season. It is not Al-Memari’s first UAE mountaineering record; in 2011 he became the first Emirati to scale Everest.
“I have climbed more than 100 mountains around the world so far. And this (K2) was a big challenge for me but, by the blessing of God, I made it,” Al-Memari told Arab News in an exclusive interview earlier this week.
This year’s record number of ascents, he believes, may encourage more Arab mountaineers to conquer the world’s toughest peak.
“Many mountaineers in the Arab world would love to climb K2,” he said. “This year has seen the biggest number of successes on K2, I think. That will open the door for Arab climbers to climb K2.”
For the 45-year-old Fujairah-born mountaineer, the success was part of his “Peak for Peace” mission, which involves him climbing the world’s highest summits to spread a message of tolerance and love from his motherland.
“I was born in the mountainous region of UAE. And my dream was to see my (country’s) flag and peace message on top of the highest mountains in the world,” he said. “I just want to send the message of peace, because our religion is based on peace.”
Among the mountains Al-Memari has already scaled are the Seven Summits — the seven highest mountain peaks on each of the seven continents — and the Broad Peak (8,051 meters), the first mountain he has climbed in Pakistan. And he already has his eyes set on a second Pakistani peak.
“If I get the chance by next year, I will do Nanga Parbat” he said, referring to the 8,126-meter-high Himalayan peak.
Pakistan and its people hold a special place in Al-Memari’s heart. “(They are so humble). I feel they are my family,” he said.
“I have seen the love the Pakistani people have for the UAE. It’s something I cannot explain in words,” he continued. “Once you visit Pakistan, you will feel are at home and enjoy the beauty.”
But Al-Memari is concerned for the future of that beauty, especially the country’s iconic peaks, which have, lately, been attempted by inexperienced climbers looking for thrills.
“They are destroying the beautiful mountains,” Al-Memari said. “We need more rules to manage the mountains, so that the next generation can enjoy their beauty too.”
BEIRUT: In recent weeks in Lebanon there has been a series of violent assaults and other crimes committed by Lebanese people against Syrian refugees and vice versa.
The attacks have resulted in an increase in discriminatory rhetoric targeting Syrian refugees in Lebanon, while popular support for their repatriation to Syria has also gained momentum as the situation in Syria is widely perceived to have improved sufficiently to allow the refugees to return home.
Indeed, the country’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, recently threatened to “adopt an undesirable stance toward the Western countries, by illegally repatriating the refugees (if) the international community doesn’t cooperate.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon has strongly defended the refugees.
In a statement, the UNHCR expressed its “grave concern over the restrictive practices and discriminatory measures activated on the basis of nationality, which affects the refugees and other marginalized groups.”
Lebanese officials have started to claim that Syrian refugees are partially responsible for the critical shortage of bread in the country, as they have been consuming large amounts of subsidized wheat
The UNHCR spoke of “increased tensions between different groups, especially violence against refugees, which leads to escalating violent acts on the ground in many districts and neighborhoods.”
It said the economic crisis in Lebanon “is affecting everyone terribly, especially the most vulnerable,” and warned Lebanese authorities that “the ongoing support provided by the international community to Lebanon — which hosts the refugees — is a very important matter that ensures food security and other necessary needs.”
The UNHCR asked the Lebanese authorities to “ensure the rule of law and promptly stop violence and discrimination targeting those residing on Lebanese territory.”
There are an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon, 900,000 of whom are registered by the UNHCR as refugees living in camps. The vast majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing extremely difficult living conditions, whether they are in the camps or living and working in the country.
The situation appears to be worsening too: Lebanese officials have started to claim that Syrian refugees are partially responsible for the critical shortage of bread in the country, as they have been consuming large amounts of subsidized wheat.
Some bakeries in regions with Syrian refugees have resorted to segregation, forcing refugees to show their IDs and wait in long queues separated from other customers. When they do get served, they are only allowed a single packet of bread per family, as some Syrian refugees have been accused of sending their children to bakeries to purchase bread which they were then reselling on the black market.
Maher Al-Masri, a coordinator at the Arsal camps in Lebanon’s northern Bekaa region by the Syrian border, painted a brighter picture, saying: “We share the same food with the Lebanese in the region that is hosting us and if something bad happens to the refugees, the Lebanese residents of Arsal rush to diffuse the situation.”
But one of the camps’ officials said: “We are no longer going to bakeries to buy bread. We now buy flour and bake our bread in the camp to avoid coming into contact with the Lebanese anger.”
The Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party warned that “the worrying escalation of such problems might lead to dangerous options that widen the social gaps and increase poverty and racism.”
That already seems to be happening. On Friday, a Lebanese man was stabbed to death by Syrian refugees in Jnah, Beirut, after an argument. Another Lebanese man was killed on July 19 in Mirna Chalouhi. He was stabbed 19 times. They said the victim was killed by “Syrian refugees who accused him of having physical relations with one of the Syrian refugee women.”
Social-media platforms were flooded with inflammatory comments demanding the repatriation of Syrian refugees. But it later transpired that the killer was, in fact, Lebanese and a friend of the deceased, whom he reportedly murdered because of a family dispute.
On July 21, a 13-year-old Syrian boy, Khaled Hammoud Al-Saleh, was killed after being assaulted by a Lebanese man and his sons in the southern region of Sarafand.
On July 24, a camp in the northern Lebanese region of Akkar was set on fire by family members of 43-year-old Diab Khouweilid, a father of seven, whose body was discovered on the seashore in Qlayaat after he had been missing for two days. His family suspected that one or more of the camp’s residents had information about Khouweilid’s death.
The fire affected 85 of the camp’s 90 tents and the camp’s inhabitants were forced to leave to prevent further violence. Most of them lost their belongings.
Lebanon’s caretaker minister of the displaced, Issam Charafeddine, is set to visit Damascus to discuss the plan to repatriate Syrian refugees. Charafeddine said the plan is to repatriate 15,000 refugees every month, despite warnings from international organizations against coercive repatriation after reports of crimes against a number of repatriated refugees.
Syrian activists for refugees in Lebanon, said in a statement: “Refugees in host regions avoid tensions. Syrian refugees are suffering from the economic crisis in Lebanon, similar to the Lebanese. The issue of repatriation awaits practical solutions. We hear of calls and statements made by Lebanese officials, but we haven’t been notified of anything yet by the UNHCR.”
BEIRUT: Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Saturday he would not call for a session to elect a new president until the legislature passes reforms that are preconditions for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.
An IMF deal is seen as the only way for Lebanon to recover from a financial meltdown that has plunged the country into its most destabilising crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
President Michel Aoun’s six-year term ends on Oct. 31, and top politicians have voiced concern about no successor being found — warning of even greater institutional deadlock given that Lebanon has also been without a fully functioning government since May.
“I will not call for a presidential election session until after the reform laws required by the IMF have been adopted,” Berri said during a meeting with journalists at his Beirut residence, in comments confirmed to Reuters by his office.
He said parliament should work to pass the reform laws in August, pointing to the urgent need for the measures.
Berri, who has held his post for nearly three decades, said on Friday that a “miracle” would be needed for a government to be formed anytime soon. He did not elaborate.
Under the constitution, the president issues the decree appointing a new prime minister based on binding consultations with MPs, and must co-sign on the formation of any new cabinet.
In April, Lebanon reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF for a $3 billion bailout but a full deal is conditional on the passage of bills including capital controls, banking restructuring legislation and the 2022 budget.
Lebanon’s constitution says the speaker must convene parliament “one month at least and two months at most before the expiration of the term of office of the President of the Republic.”
Failing that, the chamber meets automatically on the 10th day preceding the term’s expiration, the constitution says.
Aoun came to power after a 29-month presidential vacuum in which parliament was unable to agree on electing a president. The stalemate ended with a series of deals that secured victory for Aoun and his powerful Iran-backed ally Hezbollah.
Aoun is limited to one term, and major political parties have not announced any agreement on his successor.