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| 21 March, 2018

Egypt's presidential elections 2018: What do Egyptians in Dubai want from the new president?

The current presidential election is the last one President Al-Sisi can contest under the Egyptian constitution's term limits

Girls walk by a poster of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the upcoming presidential election, in Cairo, Egypt March 19, 2018.

Girls walk by a poster of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the upcoming presidential election, in Cairo, Egypt March 19, 2018.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Security and economy topped the concerns of Egyptians living in Dubai, according to interviews conducted with expatriates as the voting deadline for its presidential elections for those living outside the country closed this week.

Zawya interviewed ten Egyptians in Dubai while voting was still underway for Egyptians resident in foreign countries to pick a president for the Arab world’s most populous nation. Voting for those living outside Egypt took place over a three-day period from March 16-18.

In the United Arab Emirates, voting took place at the Egyptian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai.

Zawya could not find an official figure for the number of Egyptians living in the UAE.

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An official in the Egyptian of Foreign Affairs-Consular Section said that such figures no longer exist as many Egyptians who move to live abroad do not register themselves with the Egyptian embassies in their host nations.

In Egypt, the vote is expected to take place next week on March 26-28 and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is widely expected to win. 

Al-Sisi’s supporters see the former army chief as the only candidate capable of steering the country at a time when Egypt is facing economic difficulties and an Islamist insurgency.

On the other hand, Al-Sisi’s opponents accuse him of stifling opposition, as well as intimidating and arresting any real challengers in the presidential race, with only one contender - Mousa Mostafa Mousa, the head of a political party called Al-Ghad (The Future) standing against him.

Mousa is seen by Al-Sisi’s opponents as a weak candidate with no grassroots support.

But what do Egyptians living in the UAE think, and what do they want to see from their new president? Zawya spoke to several of them on Sunday and Monday.

Ibrahim Al Eisawy, 54, engineer:

“Of course I voted for Al-Sisi because Al-Sisi saved us from a doomed future. The Muslim Brotherhood are known as people who love power and only love themselves. We consider him the man of the current stage.”

Al-Sisi came to power in 2014 after orchestrating the ousting of elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood group, in reaction to mass protests against Mursi’s one-year rule. Mursi was accused by many of Egypt’s liberal and leftist groups of empowering his Islamist allies while sidelining other political forces.

Engineer Ibrahim Al Eisawy draws a portrait of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on the final day of voting for Egyptian expats outside the Egyptian consulate in Dubai (Photo: Yasmine Saleh).

Haitham Ismail, 41, regional director in a multinational company in the UAE:

“The priorities right now are very clear. We have an economic problem, although it did relax a little bit with all the loans that we got recently. We still have a major obstacle which is the budget deficit and if we do not manage our finances correctly, I think this country is going to pile up debt and of obviously that is going to impact future generation(s).”

Egypt reached a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2016, through which Egypt will receive a total of $12 billion in tranches. According to the IMF, about $6 billion has already been distributed following two reviews of its economic reform programme. Further disbursements of $2 billion per review are expected to be made following the third and subsequent reviews, according to the IMF’s website.

Noha Abu Al-Hoda, 35 year-old Egyptian-Syrian housewife:

“I hope the future will be better. Voting is a right and I feel that practicing my right is very crucial and that it will make a difference, at least for me.”

Abu Al-Hoda said that she did not want to reveal who her vote would go to, or why.

Tamer Helmy, 28, lawyer:

“I voted for Al-Sisi of course. Actually, I was not convinced with the elections at the beginning and I was not going to go to vote. But then, when I thought that we have stability compared to other countries around us. I felt that the country is going in the right direction.”

“He (Al-Sisi) deserves a chance, four more years. Then he would have taken his full chance and we can judge him then.”

Mohamed Kamal, 40, employee in Emirates airlines:

“Many things have improved in Egypt, security and the economy have improved and Al-Sisi will continue to make them improve more. He started many projects and I hope he continues what he has started,” added Kamal, who said his vote went to Al-Sisi.

Kamal listed projects such as the ongoing building of a new administration city on the outskirts of Cairo, the establishment of a second channel along Egypt’s historic Suez Canal and the Al-Galala Plateau project, which is run by the Armed Forces Engineering Authority, to build a new city near the Suez Canal, as examples of achievements during President Al-Sisi’s first term in office.

Belal, 34, marketing manager, who only stated his first name:

“I voted for Al-Sisi. I hope people protest later against the system and allow Al-Sisi to run for a third time.”

Currently, the Egyptian constitution only allows an elected president to serve two terms in office.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Michael Fahy)

(yasmine.saleh@thomsonreuters.com)

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© ZAWYA 2018