CAIRO – 25 April 2017:President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is present during the three-day National Youth Conference that kicked off on Tuesday in Ismailia, coinciding with Sinai Liberation Day, while the parliament is still discussing a motion to launch a new ministry dedicated to the development of the peninsula after 35 years of restoring full Egyptian sovereignty.
The issue of developing the peninsula emerges at every anniversary, as North Sinai, although largely stable for decades, has not been properly developed, and is not facing militancy inhibiting the aspired progress. South Sinai, on the other hand, mainly relies on tourism, which has also been affected since the popular uprising in 2011.
However, in an effort to plan a bright future for the peninsula, Sisi will attend the conference with 1,200 young people, mainly from Suez, Port Said, Ismailia and North and South Sinai who are taking part of the conference. Rising prices, health and social care, and sustainable development of the energy sector will be discussed.
Meanwhile, the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces announced progress in building the New Rafah city in North Sinai, which will include 10,016 housing units. The city will host locals who were displaced for a buffer zone to be established along the borders with Gaza Strip.
The authority also finished digging 18 wells in Sheikh Zuwayed, Rafah and al-Hasna, and renovated 12 other wells in North Sinai.
Two seawater desalination stations are being installed in Arish and Sheikh Zuwayed, and a project to transfer the Nile water to North Sinai for agricultural purposes has been implemented, according to the Engineering Authority.
About 13,680 feddans have been reclaimed and are ready for farming in Bir el-Abd, and 350 greenhouses have been distributed among Bedouins. Twelve schools have been built, and three hospitals are still being established.
For its part, the parliament is discussing a motion on launching a new ministry.
Member of Parliament Tamer al-Shahawy said the Sinai Development Authority is sufficient to play the role, as more government entities will result in red tape. Instead, he proposed forming a new governorate in Central Sinai.
MP Sarah Saleh, however, said the authority is not a decision maker and lacks coordination with several concerned ministries; hence one independent ministry is needed.
Generally, Egyptians are emotionally attached to Sinai, despite the fact that the vast majority lives along the Nile River. The struggle to restore the land, however, helped deepen the attachment.
On April 25, 1982, Egypt raised its flag in all of the Sinai. Israel had occupied it in 1967; six years later, late President Anwar Sadat waged a war and the Egyptian troops crossed to the eastern side of the Suez Canal. In March 1979, the peace treaty was signed.
The Israeli withdrawal was gradual; Egypt raised the flag in Arish, and Israel withdrew from Arish-Ras Mohammed line, then withdrew 6,000 kilometers further, and then left Saint Katherine and el-Tor cities in South Sinai. Finally, former President Hosni Mubarak restored Taba in 1989 per an international tribunal’s ruling.
On the occasion of the anniversary, the Ministry of Defense released several videos commemorating Sinai Liberation Day, some of which are subtitled in English.