By Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb is slated meet the head of the Sinai Development Authority, Minister of Tourism, and South Sinai governor next week to discuss amendments to Law No. 14, which governs land ownership of the Sinai Peninsula.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb was scheduled to hold a meeting last Sunday with various agencies to consider making amendments to the law.
Ibrahim Al-Ashmawy, adviser on investment affairs to the Minister of Investment, said: “The government is moving forward with steps to make adjustments and revisions to the laws that are currently crippling investment.”
A tourism ministry official who preferred to remain anonymous attributed the postponement of the prime minster’s trip to West Africa this week partly to his desire to give the Sinai Development Authority and the Ministry of Tourism an opportunity to communicate and discuss the law.
Investors in tourism had opposed the Sinai Peninsula land ownership law, which was issued in 2012; the law “requires those carrying non-Egyptian nationality to move forward on projects within six months”.
Despite the government’s assertion that the law will not be applied retroactively, investors in the region continue to criticise it.
“The government should consult the opinions of investors before issuing laws,” said Samy Soliman, president of the Tourism Investors Association of Taba Nuweiba in South Sinai. “We will work to preserve this land, but the law does not concern itself with investors, especially with regards to the way it limits the right of use to 30 years.”
The number of hotel rooms in South Sinai reached 62,000, or 33% of the total hotel rooms operating in Egypt. The General Authority for Tourism Development intends to begin work on 10m square metres over the next fiscal year in the areas of Nabq, Al-Tor and Ras Sedr.