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The New Arab

Sisi's land deal with Bahraini king sparks online anger

Since Sisi took power has has cut several controversial deals with Gulf states [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 October, 2016

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Egyptian President Sisi has issued a decree allowing Bahrain's king to bypass the law and buy land in the tourist resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh, sparking anger and mockery online.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has issued a decree allowing Bahrain's king to bypass Egyptian law and buy land in the tourist resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh, sparking anger and mockery among Egyptians.

Egyptian state media reported on Sunday that Sisi had issued the presidential decree granting Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa the right to buy three villas in the city located in the Sinai Peninsula.

"The Bahraini king approached the National Agency for the Development of Sinai with an official request to own these properties during his last state visit to Egypt in April. The king spends a part of his summers in Sharm al-Sheikh every year," an Egyptian official told a The New Arab correspondent.

Egyptian law restricts foreigners and Egyptian dual citizens from owning property in the Sinai.

The law - which Sisi introduced in 2012 while he was the minister of defence - was reportedly aimed at quelling fears that the then-president Mohamad Morsi would sell land to Palestinians in the Sinai close to the Gaza Strip.

Since Sisi took power in Egypt following a military takeover in 2013 that ousted Morsi, he has cut several controversial deals with Gulf states.

But Sisi is also seen as relying on Saudi Arabia and UAE support for desperately needed finances.

In April, Sisi agreed to hand over two Red Sea island to Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom promised Egypt about $20 billion in oil products and $8 billion through its public and sovereign funds.

The islands' deal has sparked public outcry and protests since it was signed, with some people saying it was tantamount to a sell-off of Egypt to the Kingdom.

In a speech in February, Sisi even offered to sell himself to save Egypt's failing economy - a move that was mocked intensely online.

More than five years after its 2011 uprising - partly fuelled by economic disparities in the country - that swept away veteran dictator Hosni Mubarak, the country is still reeling from the economic fallout.

The Arabic-language hashtag #WhenHeGoesBrokeHeSells - a reference to Sisi's selling habit - gained traction on Twitter shortly after the news of the sale became public.

Translation: "[Sisi] seems to be like a guy who drinks sea water and keeps on getting more and more thirsty. The more he sells the more broke he gets."

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