http://weekly. ahram.org. eg/2009/964/ eg2.htm
Reaching out to the regions
Gamal Mubarak's recent visit to Nubia draws attention to an oft neglected area of Egypt, reports Gamal Essam El-Din
September 12, 2009
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When President Hosni Mubarak was in Washington for a meeting with US President Barack Obama on 18 August, he received a letter of support from Egyptian Nubians living in the United States. There were also press reports saying Egyptian Nubians living in the US had refused to join a demonstration against President Mubarak in front of the White House.
President Mubarak emphasised in a letter that he is proud of the Nubians, who belong to an old civilisation in Upper Egypt, and emphasised that he "always orders the government to be aware of the problems facing Nubians and find quick solutions for them".Gamal Mubarak, chairman of the ruling National Democratic Party's Policies Committee, who accompanied his father during the US visit, this week paid a rare visit to the governorate of Aswan and the district of Nasr Nubia as part of a delegation that included six cabinet ministers and Mustafa El-Sayed, the governor of Aswan.
Addressing a public rally on Monday, Gamal Mubarak said he was aware that Nubians are in a desperate need of improved housing, water drainage and irrigation services. Haggag Adol, a celebrated Nubian writer, once famously remarked that "the government treats Nubians like second class citizens". When the High Dam was completed in 1971 Nubians were forced to leave their land as it was gradually inundated by Lake Nasser. They have repeatedly complained that the government has since ignored the problems they face and is adamant they should not receive compensation for the traditional lands they lost. In recent years reports have regularly surfaced that the Nubians were seeking to join forces with groups opposed to the Mubarak regime.
Gamal Mubarak stressed in his speech that the government does not discriminate against Nubians. "We try to solve the problems of Nubians like we try to solve the problems of citizens everywhere in Egypt," he said, adding that he was fully aware that border areas in Egypt, like Nubia, suffer from a chronic shortage of water and housing. "I know that many Nubians were not compensated for their losses. I want to say that the government has now allocated a budget for solving these problems." Gamal Mubarak said plans were under way to reclaim lands in Aswan and Nubia and that the ministries of irrigation and agriculture will play key roles in achieving this.
Minister of Housing Ahmed El-Maghrabi said the government had two options for solving Nubia's housing problem -- either building houses for citizens or offering them financial support to build houses themselves. President Mubarak, he added, had given orders that the funds allocated for sanitary drainage projects in Aswan and Nubia be increased from LE4.4 billion to LE13.4 billion so as to extend services to all villages.
Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Nasreddin Allam revealed plans for building 2,000 housing units and reclaiming 1,000 feddans of land. Allam emphasised that "the High Dam was the project of the last century and that the water it saves from the Nile's annual flood is enough for Egypt to cultivate the land for the next 100 years".
Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza also stressed that citizens of Aswan and Nubia would have priority when it comes to distributing land earmarked for reclamation around Lake Nasser. On a more political note Gamal Mubarak argued that young people should appreciate "the stability which Egypt enjoys under the rule of President Mubarak". "Stability," he said, "does not mean stagnation or not moving forward, but it does mean a lot for a country that has suffered from destructive wars and occupation of its land." "Right now Egypt is in a very strong position, enjoying an unprecedented margin of public freedom and polarity of opinions," he continued, stressing that "a major objective of my tours is trying to reach out to citizens and listen to problems and proposed solutions."
He heaped praise on the NDP's recent internal elections, arguing they had acted to "democratise the party and spread discipline within its ranks". Instead of inciting divisions, Mubarak claimed internal NDP elections helped close ranks, mend fences and spread a culture of competition that would improve performance.
Gamal Mubarak's week's schedule also included a visit to Cairo's Agouza district on Sunday. As chairman of the non-governmental Future Generation Foundation (FDF) he has led a campaign to rehabilitate areas such as the poorer districts contained in Al-Agouza. The fourth phase of renovation works were in full swing this week. They include constructing three apartment buildings for 192 families and renovating 113 houses. FDF receives funding from foreign donors, including USAID, and focuses its activities on development projects targeting the poor and young people.
On 27 August Gamal Mubarak was in the village of Abu Nagah in the Nile Delta governorate of Beheira. Abu Nagah has been designated among Egypt's poorest 1,000 villages in a development project designed by the NDP in cooperation with the World Bank and the Ministry of Economic Development. NDP officials say Gamal Mubarak's visits are part and parcel of an overall policy under which party leaders conduct an open dialogue with citizens across the country.
http://weekly. ahram.org. eg/2009/964/ eg2.htm