Egypt has the most developed and versatile industry in the Arab world, although it is largely obsolete. In the past, much of the production was state-run, and military ownership is behind companies in a variety of industries, but the share of the private sector has increased steadily. Most of the produce is sold on the home market.
Oil refining is an important industry branch. In 2019, when Egypt had eight refineries in use, Reuters announced plans to modernize six plants. Large state infrastructure projects have caused the construction and cement industry to grow. The availability of cheap electricity has facilitated the development of the heavy industry.
Textiles account for a significant proportion of the manufacturing industry, although the proportion has decreased as the cotton industry has shrunk in step with state subsidies. Outdated technology, pollution, over-staffing and a lack of quality control in state-controlled spinning and weaving mills have contributed to the decline. The sector’s major competitive advantage is low labor costs. Strikes have attracted particular attention in the city of Mahalla, where textile workers hold the state responsible for the industry’s problems. However, clothing manufacturing, which most private companies are responsible for, has been good in recent years.
The food industry is a growth sector, as is IT and electronics. Other important industrial products are cement, metal products, cars, fertilizers, furniture and consumer goods. Small companies with a few employees dominate among the private companies.
The authorities are trying to steer industrial projects to new places to reduce congestion in Cairo and Alexandria, where no new large industrial projects are allowed. There are several “free zones” with very favorable conditions and minimal regulations. Companies in the free zones pay no taxes but must export at least half of what is manufactured.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Egypt. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
The military is a major owner of the Egyptian business and the dozens of militarily owned companies have, according to consistent reports, increased their role during President Sisi’s time in power. It sometimes works in collaboration with foreign investors, sometimes with domestic corporate groups. Manufacturing companies manufacture both military and civilian equipment, and the military influence spans a variety of industries, including steel, technical products, cement, construction companies, tourism and fish farms. The proportion of the business sector that the military companies make up is difficult to calculate, the accounts are not published. The military has benefited, among other things, by exemption from VAT.
New verdict against ex-president Mursi
30th of January
Former President Muhammad Mursi is sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the judiciary. Mursi already has several previous convictions, including a life sentence (see September 2017). Seventeen other people are also sentenced, including blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is fined.
Nine killed in attack on church
Nine people are killed in connection with a raid on a church in Helwan, south of Cairo. The Islamist group IS claims that its “soldiers” carried out the attack. According to the Home Office, an offender is arrested with an assault weapon, ammunition and an explosive charge which he intends to detonate at the church.
Mass execution after attacks in Sinai
Fifteen people are executed by hanging since they were sentenced for attacks against security forces on the Sinai Peninsula in 2013. The mass execution, which according to the authorities, consists of two prisons in northern Egypt, is the first since 2015, when six jihadists were hanged.
Nine dead in police strike
Nine people are killed in a raid on a cell suspected of being behind attacks on the Sinai Peninsula. Nine people are also arrested and weapons and ammunition are seized in the strike in the province of Sharqiya, just west of the Sinai Peninsula.
Strong reactions to US recognition of Jerusalem
President Sisi invites Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to discuss US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The decision has sparked fierce criticism and violent protests around the Muslim world. In Egypt, both Grandmother Ahmed al-Tayeb at al-Azhar University and Coptic Patriarch Tawadros have scheduled a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence in protest against US Israeli policy.
Presidential candidate is expelled from the United Arab Emirates
Former Prime Minister and former Presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq is deported back to Egypt from the United Arab Emirates where he has lived since 2012. The deportation comes shortly after Shafiq announced his intention to run in the 2018 presidential election. margin of Muhammad Mursi in the 2012 presidential election. He is seen as one of the few who could offer President Sisi some resistance. After returning to Egypt, Shafiq disappeared for about a day. When Shafiq reappears, he says in a statement that he should consider whether to run in the presidential election.
The President orders security in Sinai
President Sisi orders the military to restore security and stability on the Sinai Peninsula within three months. It should be done with “utterly brutal force”. The order is given in a television speech held on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and is a reaction to the mosque massacre a few days earlier. The military commander who receives the order is newly admitted; the former was dismissed after the October attack when 16 police officers were killed.
“Terrorists” killed in raids
Security forces kill eleven suspected terrorists in a raid in the province of Ismailia on the west bank of the Suez Canal. According to the Interior Ministry, the site has been used to support Islamists in North Sinai. Nine people are also arrested and weapons and communications equipment are seized. After the mosque attack a few days earlier, the security forces have carried out raids in many places and the air force has bombed places on the Sinai Peninsula.
Bloody mosque attack on Sinai Peninsula
Over 300 people die in an attack on a mosque in Bir-al-Abd in North Sinai Province. The attack is the bloodiest in modern times. It begins with explosive charges detonating during Friday prayers. Cars outside are on fire and when people try to escape from the mosque, some 30 offenders open fire. President Sisi announces three days of country grief and vows revenge. No one is wearing the deed, but IS reportedly had black flags on the scene. The mosque is largely visited by Sufis, whom IS considers to be defunct.
Violent clashes in the Libyan desert
Sixteen police officers are killed, according to the Home Office, when unidentified perpetrators open fire in connection with a raid on the Bahariya oasis in the Libyan desert. Fifteen attackers should also have been killed. The area is far from the troubled Sinai. Ten days later, the military reports that the Air Force carried out an airstrike that killed “a large number of terrorists” who were behind the attack.
Attention wave in North Sinai
During a troubled week on the Sinai Peninsula, twelve soldiers, three police officers and two civilians have been killed in attacks by suspected jihadists . One of the assaults was aimed at a bank and the attackers escaped with a cash exchange. Hundreds of lives have been claimed in recent years in violence attributed to jihadists. The Islamic State (IS) has sympathizers in the province of North Sinai and has taken on some of the attacks.
Support for re-election of Sisi
The largest block in the House of Representatives, for Egypt’s sake, decides to run a campaign for Sisi to be re-elected in 2018. The president has not confirmed that he is running in the elections that are expected to be held in May or June. However, Sisi also has support from the military and major financiers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Members of For Egypt’s sake, 16 of 25 committees are leading the parliament and the bloc is expected to control around 380 of the 596 seats.
Extended state of emergency
The state of emergency introduced after the bombing of churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria in April has been extended . The extension decision is valid for three months at a time.
Severe punishment for Mursian followers
Eight death sentences, 50 life sentences and ten multi-year prison sentences have been sentenced for an attack on a Cairo police station in 2013, when three police officers were killed. The police station was employed in the wake of the military’s deposition of Islamist President Muhammad Mursi, when security forces broke up protest camps in Cairo. Hundreds of Mursian supporters have been sentenced to death in recent years, but the judges have been appealed and many have been re-examined.
At a concert in Cairo with the Lebanese band Mashrou ‘Leila, whose singer lives openly as gay, visitors waving rainbow flags. The weeks following the concert follow a wave of arrests against homosexuals. Egyptian law does not explicitly prohibit homosexuality, but several law rooms are used to intervene against sexual minorities. New concerts with the band are stopped by the Egyptian musicians’ union.
Judgment against Mursi is upheld
The Court of Cassation determines the lifetime sentence against President Mursi, issued in June 2016. The court’s ruling cannot be appealed.
Harsh criticism from HWR
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses the Egyptian security service of torturing prisoners to such an extent that it can be likened to crimes against humanity . HRW states that the security service systematically exposes regime critics to torture. The country’s foreign ministry dismisses the report and says it is based on baseless testimony. Two days after the report was released, HRW states that the authorities have blocked access to the organization’s websites from Egypt. According to a domestic action group working for freedom of expression, the government has blocked over 400 websites over the past three months. Among those blocked are sites from media companies and NGOs.
Military exercises with the United States resume
Egypt announces that the country’s military will conduct a joint military exercise with the United States next week. Thus, an old tradition of joint exercises is resumed every two years. The exercises began in 1981 and lasted until 2009, but were subsequently canceled due to the instability in the region that followed the Arab Spring of 2011.
Seven killed by car bomb
Two children are among seven people who die when a car bomb explodes near a roadblock in North Sinai. The victims were 200 meters from the roadblock when soldiers stopped the car, which was then detonated.
Thirty killed in security efforts
The military states that 30 “extremists” were killed during a multi-day security operation on the Sinai Peninsula. It is not specified in detail what the killers were, but they are said to have been extremely dangerous. The army, the air force and the police must have participated in the operation.
Twenty death sentences against Mursi supporters
Twenty people are sentenced to death for their roles in the riot in which 13 policemen were killed on August 14, 2013. 114 defendants are sentenced to prison for between 15 years and life imprisonment, while a minor is sentenced to ten years in prison. The convicted took part in a riot against a police station in the Cairo suburb of Kerdassa a few hours after more than 700 people were killed when the military struck two camps with supporters of the recently deposed Islamic President Muhammad Mursi (see Modern History).
Egyptian islands become Saudi
President al-Sisi ratifies a contentious agreement that will transfer the two almost uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. The agreement was made a year ago when Saudi King Salman visited Egypt. The agreement received the Egyptian parliament’s support last week, but it has sparked protests among critics who believe al-Sisi is “selling” territory in exchange for Saudi aid.
30 are convicted of prosecution
17th of June
A Cairo court sentenced 30 people to death for the blast attack that took state prosecutor Hisham Barakat’s life in June 2015. Authorities have singled out Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian movement Hamas for the murder. As always, the death sentence should be tested by the Grand Mufti.
Disputed island transfer is approved
Parliament approves the transfer of the uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea, to Saudi Arabia, announced at the Saudi king’s visit in April 2016. The decision has sparked strong protests and several people are arrested when Parliament’s message arrives. The transfer has previously been rejected in two courts, but legal rounds have continued. Asserts that it is the legislators’ decision to decide the matter and that only President Sisi’s final clear sign is now missing;
Relations with Qatar are broken
Egypt breaks diplomatic relations with Qatar, as do Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Maldives. Qatar is accused of supporting IS and al-Qaeda and in the background there is Saudi dissatisfaction with Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Jazira and Iran.
Bloody assault on Copts
At least 29 Christians are killed when armed men open fire on three vehicles en route to a monastery just over 20 miles south of Cairo. Many of the victims are children. IS later takes on the attack.
Mass charges for attacks against churches
The State Prosecutor states that 48 suspected IS members will be brought before a military court suspected of the attacks on Coptic churches in December 2016 and April 2017. IS has taken on the explosion that claimed a total of over 70 people’s lives.
New life sentence against Badie
Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme leader Mohammed Badie is again sentenced to life imprisonment for planning “violent attacks”. Badie has already been sentenced to death three times but had the judges changed. In total, more than 35 trials involving Badie are ongoing, according to his lawyers.
Pope Francis visits Egypt for a day and advocates reconciliation between Muslims and Christians. His visit comes after several attacks by hardline Islamists against Christians in Egypt. The Pope meets President Sisi, Grandmother Ahmed al-Tayeb at al-Azhar University, and participates with the Coptic Patriarch Tawadros in a mass at the cathedral where a suicide attack was carried out in December.
Terrorism against Copts
A total of 45 people are killed and 125 injured in two suicide attacks against churches, in Tanta and Alexandria, on Palm Sunday. IS takes on the death that causes President Sisi to announce a three-month emergency.
Mubarak freed in the highest instance
The Court of Cassation frees ex-President Hosni Mubarak from liability for the hundreds of deaths that occurred in connection with the 2011 uprising. Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012, but the case has been reassessed twice and has now reached the final instance. The 88-year-old Mubarak can now be set free. He has been held at a military hospital despite serving a three-year sentence for embezzlement.
Parliament votes to exclude Member Mohamed Anwar Sadat after he was accused of having leaked draft law on NGOs to foreign embassies. He is also accused of forging other members’ signatures on a bill. Sadat, who is the nephew of former President Anwar Sadat, has often been critical of the government and parliament dominated by Sisi supporters.
Violence against Christians in Sinai
A jihadist calls in a video recording violence against Egypt’s Christian minority. Just days after, three cups were shot to death in the city of al-Arish on the Sinai Peninsula. Several hundred cups then flee their homes in Sinai.
Police killed in the south
At least eight policemen are killed in an attack on a roadblock in the desert of southern Egypt.
New terrorist act on the Sinai Peninsula
Seven police officers and a civilian are killed by a suicide bomber in a truck near a roadblock. Five other perpetrators must also have been shot dead by police. IS takes on the deed.