Around 100 farmers from Sadat in the Delta governorate of Menufiya gathered outside the Press Syndicate in Downtown Cairo Monday to protest against the government ignoring their demands over land sales.
Some of the demonstrators told Daily News Egypt that they are living on land in Sadat that they have developed and put to agricultural use. However, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s administration has decided to sell the land to foreign parties, namely from the UAE and Kuwait, who are offering larger sums of money in the sale.
A woman from a Sadat family told Daily News Egypt they bought the land in 2007 and have been living and working on it since. The government, she says, has now seized it and evicted those living on it.
“We are the ones that cultivated it into good land; Egyptians should have the priority not Kuwaitis or Emiratis,” she said. “All our families are living on this land and making a living from it.”
Egypt is currently preparing for March’s Economic Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, in which it hopes to attract billions of pounds of investment for national projects. Minister of Housing Mostafa Madbouly announced his ministry will propose an EGP 150bn project during the Summit as its first project.
Many of the protestors chanted against Minister Madbouly. Other chants included: “Where are you our President?”, “Are Emiratis better than us or what”, “Has [Ahmed] Ezz come back or what?” referring to the Mubarak-era businessman widely held to be corrupt.
Last week, the New Urban Communities Authority issued seven tenders for development projects in different cities across Egypt. According to the authority’s vice president, Kamal Fahmy, one of the tenders is for Sadat City, one of the largest industrial cities in Egypt.
It is unclear whether this was the exact project that the farmers were protesting against. At the time of print, Daily News Egypt had not received a comment from the Ministry of Housing.
One farmer, who did not give his name, told Daily News Egypt: “President Al-Sisi does not know the meaning of Tahya Misr [long live Egypt]; he says he is working to help the interests of our country but is doing nothing. We want to have the land to grow produce like wheat, but Al-Sisi instead buys it from Russia. This is a national security issue, why would we destroy our local plantations when we already import it from outside?”