A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Naguib Sawiris Kicks Himself Upstairs to Focus on Politics

Naguib Sawiris, Executive Chairman of Egypt's Orascom telecommunications giant and one of the (if not the) richest Egyptian businessmen is yielding the Executive Chairman post to the company's CEO because he has "decided to be more focused on social and political work, aiming to play a role in the transformation of post-revolution Egypt into a civil democracy," according to this business article on Al-Masry al-Youm English. Two major points left out of the article that would be intuitive to Egyptian readers but not necessarily to others:
  1. Sawiris is the ultimate, overall major investor in Al-Masry Al-Youm, though they don't disclose that here.
  2. Sawiris is a Copt, one of the most visible Copts in the country who isn't the Pope or carries the name Boutros-Ghali (Boutros or Yusuf).
What this means is unclear. He's not going to run for President — he's a Copt — but the growing sectarian issues may have some influence on his decision. While if the change in Egypt is merely a change in which millionaires run the country — from Gamal Mubarak's business cronies to a new bunch of millionaires — it may not be a good sign. (Though to be fair, Sawiris is not a millionaire. He's a billionaire.)


David Mack said...

This says something good about the Egyptian spirit. Always refreshing to see someone give priority to public service instead of making money. Michael Bloomberg has been good for New York. He has similarities to Sawiris, including being from a minority community. Unless you think that the models for Sawiris are Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi, who use political activism to increase their prospects for greater wealth.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

I agree, David, that it's good to see him "give priority to public service instead of making money," though I rather suspect he's got all the money he will ever need.