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Egypt cancels key investment forum after 'investor reluctance': Report

The report comes less than a week after the head of the World Economic Forum cancelled the MENA forum due to safety concerns
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi gives a speech at the end of the Egypt economic development conference on 20 March

Serious doubts have surfaced surrounding a large investment conference in Egypt, after reports emerged that the event was due to be cancelled due to lacklustre interest from investors.

An unnamed Egyptian official told the New Arab website on Monday that the Egypt Economic Development Conference [EEDC] set to be held in May has been delayed indefinitely, citing "investor reluctance". 

Last year’s EEDC saw large-scale pledges from many regional and international investors, with almost 2,000 delegates from 112 different countries attending the Sharm al-Sheikh event which saw billions in investment and deals pledged.  

High-profile delegates like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew in for the meeting, billed as Egypt’s return to the global stage following years of political uncertainty after the Arab Spring.

However, the government source said that many of the investors have been “extremely frustrated” with Egypt’s inability to fulfil obligations and “turn memoranda of understanding into actual deals”.

The report comes less than a week after the head of the World Economic Forum [WEF] on the Middle East and North Africa announced that the forum had been cancelled due to safety concerns.

The meeting was set to happen in Sharm al-Sheikh later this month, with organisers saying that it would bring together more than 800 African and international leading businessmen and investors, including Barclays, Ernst & Young, IBM, Microsoft and Huawei.

Heads of state from Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan were also due to attend.

The Sinai Peninsula has seen a spike in violence since the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi, with the Islamic State affiliate Wilayat Sinai launching major attacks on the military and police with hundreds killed.

Last October, a Russian passenger plane carrying holiday makers from Sharm al-Sheikh blew up over Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. The Islamic State (IS) group later claimed responsibility. Following the incident, Russia and the UK halted flights in and out of the resort.

“They [WEF] felt they couldn’t take on the liability of Sharm,” one person involved in the conversations between WEF and Mena representatives told The National newspaper. 

The event could still be rescheduled and held elsewhere, possibly in Jordan, although reports indicate that the Egyptian authorities have rejected this.