“Gold is a treasure,” they said in the past. It has been the best way to save wealth throughout history, because it does not lose its value over time. Gold is considered the best savings pot that customers seek to retain the value of their money when things go wrong. Gold gained a good reputation as a safe haven for funds during times of crises. In addition, the price of gold is similar across the world, as it is linked to the price of the US dollar.
Experts believe that Egyptians have bought gold in all its forms over the past few years to preserve the value of their money, in light of the economic crises experienced by the country after the events of the 25 January Revolution and 30 June, as well as during the liberalisation of the pound exchange rate, which led to high inflation rates.
The latest report of the World Gold Council showed the volume of expenditure of Egyptians during the last 9 years, recording 362.9 tonnes of gold, 330.3 tonnes in jewellery, and 32.5 tonnes in bullions.
The report also pointed out that the volume of expenditure in 2018 recorded 27.2 tonnes, of which 24.6 tonnes were of gold jewellery and 2.6 tonnes were of bullions and pounds. The year 2010 recorded the largest volume of total expenditure, recording 55.3 tonnes, while in 2013, customers registered the largest expenditure of alloys which amounted to 7.1 tonnes, as well as 45.6 tonnes of jewellery.
The per capita consumption volume during 2018 was 0.3 grams, while the year 2010 recorded the largest percentage of per capita expenditure by 0.7 grams.
The report pointed to the increase of the Egyptian gold reserves by 7%, where Egypt occupies the 40th place in the world, and the sixth in the Arab countries with 78.3 tonnes.
Rafiq Abbasy, head of the gold division of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, said that Egyptians bought gold during the past years in order to preserve the value of their money from erosion due to the crisis in the country. Egyptians saved and did not invest, as there is a difference between investment and saving in gold.
He explained that saving in gold is intended to divert the surplus of citizens to various forms of gold, such as jewellery, alloys and pounds, to maintain the value of money and to avoid losses during economic crises, especially with the liberalisation of the exchange rate, which led to the erosion of the value of currency.
Abbasy added that gold is one of the safe havens that people resort to when economic crises and currencies collapse. Gold is a risk hedging tool rather than an investment tool for profit.
While women purchase gold jewellery, motivated by saving or adornment, many others see it as a safe haven in times of crisis and vicissitudes. In poor neighbourhoods, women resort to boasting, and in the countryside, women buy gold after harvest, where most farmers do not believe in the interest from saving vessels as they are looking for more profits, which can only be achieved by investing in gold.
Abbasy pointed out that his father used to receive the big farmers in his shop when they came down to Cairo to sell crops, where some of them bought 5 or 6 kgs of gold.
He added that customers are willing to save, in order to save the value of their money, and not just to look at the near future, as it is the opposite of saving money or bank certificates, which earns a quick profit.
Furthermore, he pointed out that gold shows its real value during times of crises and devaluation of currencies and savings certificates, as gold retains its purchasing value over time, especially with the rise in gold prices.
In addition, Abbasy explained that investing in gold means investing capital to trade in gold bullion for the purpose of developing it and making a profit.
He added that gold is not the best investment tool, because it is not profitable except if there are price hikes, unlike venturing into other conduits such as real estate and savings certificates.
Wadie Antwan, head of the Gold Division of the Chamber of Commerce in Sharqeya, said that gold is a saving and investment tool to achieve profits at the same time, as a result of the rising price of gold during the past years.
He added that the latest geopolitical impact on gold prices during periods such as Britain’s exit from the European Union and the tension between the US and China, which strengthens the power of gold against the dollar, and the possibility of growth in prices this year, reaching the levels of 2011, when gold made its highest rise stretch at $1,928 an ounce.
Antwan pointed out that the rise in gold prices revives the sales movement of citizens, to achieve the greatest amount of profits, similar to what happened in 2016, which saw the sale by Egyptians of their gold possessions, where the market saw an influx of jewellery made in the 1980s and 1990s. The gold price started the year at EGP 276 per gram and then hiked to EGP 650 in several months.
Bloomberg said in May last year that businessperson Naguib Sawiris put half of his fortune, estimated at $5.7bn, into gold, as he believed gold prices will rise in the coming period.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Sawiris said he expects gold prices to continue rising for the next period, reaching $1,800.
“China will not stop consumption. People tend to invest in gold during crises, and we are suffering from many crises at the moment,” he added.
In an interview with Amr Adib on ON TV, Sawiris said that every person should turn 20% of their savings into gold.