Why is Egypt poor while its rulers are rich?
Thu, 02/02/2017 - 10:36

"Nobody told you that you are poor, nobody told you that we are very poor," the words of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hurt Egyptians' feelings -- he uttered it spontaneously as usual, embodying a doctor who diagnoses the illness of a patient and details disease honestly and openly, even though it might be shocking. What Sisi said explicitly, has been uttered more subtly by those who were in his position.

Since the rule of the Pharaohs, there have been two different Egypts: working Egypt and ruling Egypt. Poor Egypt loved by its good people despite its ills, and rich Egypt which upon its fruits live its rulers, the layer of senior state officials, diplomatic corps, the judiciary, police, the businessmen, and the wealthy.
 
Nevertheless, those of the second Egypt are dissatisfied with the first Egypt which for them is characterised by ugliness and slums. They are ashamed of it and wish they could erect a dam between it and themselves like the barrier Trump intends to build on the border of Mexico. And perhaps the New Administrative Capital will fulfill this purpose.
 
Presidents of Egypt are always complaining about the lazy and dependant people, who repeat "forgive me" over and over, even though the magic of this word makes millions bear the bitterness of life under these selfish rulers, who advise us to look at the ground and not at the sky, as looking upward will make us disgruntled and want equality with the rich.
 
I tried to understand the president's remark that we are very poor. He wants to say that while he acknowledges the miseries, he has little to do with that -- and don’t look at the wealth of the other countries, look for less, not more, a message he repeats every now and then to remind us of our inability and also his ability to transit us from this misery to the other land where Egypt becomes to stand on equal footing with developed countries. 
 
There is always a persistent question to my mind: Why, despite the poverty in Egypt, are its rulers rich, patriotic and honest? Even Nasser, who is considered an example of honor, wouldn't have been able to give his sons the comfortable life they live now if he had continued as an officer in the army. Sadat, who narrated aspects of his poor background in Met Aboul Kum village in interviews on state TV, and Mubarak who lived a very humble childhood in Kafr Meselha village and had hopes to be an ambassador in London after he retired from the army.
 
Even Sisi, although he belongs to a well-off family, he had been living in a popular area and wasn't familiar with the life of palaces and luxury cars until he became defense minister and then president. So once again, what makes all of Egypt's presidents who came from simple circles forget their former lives and look down at us from the top?
 
Egypt is like many less developed countries that are also plagued by their rulers: Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. 
 
Our country is full of good but those who administrate it are inefficient. The rulers of these miserable countries do not bother themselves with improving the lives of their people, but are content thinking about how to stay in power.
 
And so what has happened for thousands of years is that rulers get richer and the public get poorer, more ignorant, and more diseased. Even when these rulers finally leave the government, they have seized such huge amounts of money from the people that they can continue to live confortablly, and their children and their grandchildren.
 
Libya and Japan: which is the richest? Though Japan's stock of raw materials is meager, it has become one of the largest economies in the world; while the oil-rich Libya, "nature's bounty", has fallen into the remnants of a state though its people also live in the twentieth century -- how did that happen? 
 
The answer is not new and already well known: good governance. In Japan, presidents and officials commit suicide if they fail; while in our country when an official fails we reinstate him, or someone finds a scapegoat to take the blame for his deficiency.
 
If we assume that we are actually a very poor country, as you said Mr President, then why does speaker of the House of Representatives, Ali Abdel Aal, buys cars worth LE18 million -- using the money of this very poor country?
 
Which Egypt are you talking about Mr President -- our Egypt that grows increasingly poorer, or your Egypt that becomes increasingly lavish?

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