By Amr Ramadan
CAIRO: On the sixth day of ongoing protests, the current situation in Egypt is unstable at best. Rumors are growing that Egyptian business tycoons and technocrats — largely seen as being part of a system criticized for cronyism and nepotism — are fleeing.
An official at Cairo airport said that an exodus of wealthy Egyptian and Arab businessmen is underway, according to reports.
The official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that around 19 private jets carrying these executives and their families have flown out of Cairo, mostly heading for Dubai.
Reports claimed that Hussein Salem, close associate of President Hosni Mubarak, and owner of East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), the company which controversially supplies natural gas to Israel, has fled.
Al Jazeera reported that Egyptian politician and businessman Ahmed Ezz tried to flee Egypt and was turned back at the airport Thursday.
Ezz is the chairman and managing director of Al Ezz Industries, secretary of the ruling national democratic party, a parliamentary member since 2000, and also the chairman of the planning and budget committee of the People’s Assembly.
Ezz resigned from his position as secretary of the NDP on Saturday amid increasing pressure on the ruling party due to ongoing protests.
Telecom tycoon Naguib Sawiris denied reports that he has fled, calling into one state-run television talk show on Sunday to deny accusations: “I am here, my family is here and we are in El Gouna right now.”
Earlier this week, Al Jazeera had reported that Sawiris, chairman and CEO of Orascom Telecom Holdings — listed on Forbes as the 374th richest person in the world — fled the country with his family.
He had called “90 minutes” talk show on Mehwar TV a day earlier accusing Al Jazeera of making premature assumptions about the sentiment on the streets in reaction to the appointment of Omar Suleiman as vice president and Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister.
On Friday, the BBC reported that the wives and families of Gamal Mubarak, head of the NDP’s policies committee, and generally viewed as the president’s successor, along with his brother Alaa, had arrived in London and unconfirmed reports that they had followed their families were reported on BBC Friday but were later denied by the government.