Egypt's Sisi announces huge Sinai infrastructure project
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced a multi-billion dollar construction project in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, with building work expected to start within the next two to three years.
North Sinai lacks the infrastructure and jobs of the Red Sea southern coast, which is known for its holiday resorts.
Since 2013, Egypt's army has been battling Islamic State group and other militants in the north, with the insurgency seeing hundreds of police and troops killed.
Last month, Sisi publicly ordered his military chief-of-staff to restore security in Sinai within three months, after militants killed more than 300 worshippers at a local mosque.
It appears Sisi is pursuing a carrot and stick approach, with the promise of better conditions after decades of neglect for the North Sinai communities, in a bid to quell the insurgency.
"We have entrusted the ministry of housing and the engineering authority with a national project of comprehensive urban planning," Sisi said at a ceremony in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia to inaugurate the construction project.
The project is expected to cost over $5 billion, Sisi said, but he did not provide details of a start date, sources of funding or details of what would be built.
Since the overthrow of President Mohamad Morsi in 2013, Sisi has attempted to revive the Egyptian economy by launching multi-billion dollar mega-projects, such as the Suez Canal expansion project.
Economic grievances had fuelled the 2011 uprising that overthrew long-time President Hosni Mubarak, ushering in years of unrest that decimated tourism and investment.
Poverty remains rife and the austerity measures introduced by the government have sent shockwaves through society.