Exclusive: Read Aboul Enein’s Economist Magazine Interview in English for First Time

Interview of Abou El-Enein by Egyptian Economist magazine

Success does not come by coincidence, but rather as a result of enduring efforts for years, coherent thought and positive mindset.

This is what the industrialist Mohamed Aboul Enein possesses, as his life is a success story on how he was able to turn himself from a person born in a middle class family to one of the most successful businessmen in the history of the Middle East.

A man of high standards and a brilliant economic mindset .. He founded “Cleopatra” group, which is one of the 4 most important industrial and economic entities in the world ..its products are exported to more than 110 countries around the world,

In addition, the influential businessman won dozens of international awards from Japan, America and Italy.

Aboul Enein is a successful political and a nationalist of high standards.

If Egypt faces any problem, he always approaches the problem as a warrior and defender of his homeland.

Sacrificing his life in the sake of Egypt, he was the first Egyptian figure to travel to the United Nations and European countries to reveal the truth of what is happening in Egypt after the June 30 revolution, correcting the image, uncovering the lies and foiling the attempts by evil forces that wanted to present a distorted image of what is happening in Egypt.

Thanks to the strong connections he established abroad,being the honorary president of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliament .. After his meeting with Ban Ki-Moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, the latter came out and announced that “June 30 is a civil democratic revolution protected by the Egyptian army.

During his important dialogue with the “Egyptian Economist” magazine, Aboul Enein laid a roadmap for achieving an industrial renaissance in Egypt, stressing that in 2020 Egypt entered a new stage enjoying a dynamic economy;he called for the necessity of establishing a higher council for industry under the leadership of President El Sisi.

He also called for the establishment of a global economic conference, bringing together the largest 300 companies in the world to market investment opportunities in Egypt.

He expressed optimism that Egypt would become one of the 10 largest economies in the world by 2030. He also talked about the 25 years- successful story for Ceramica Cleopatra products in the Japanese market.

Aboul Enein emphasized that President Sisi was a sincere and courageous national leader who loved Egypt and its people, gained the respect of the world and was able to change Egypt’s image in front of the world, explaining that Egyptian businessmen have their hands and hearts with the president for a new page of Egypt’s industrial boom in 2020.

Aboul Enein revealed the details of his meeting with the President of the United Nations General Assembly and a number of prominent officials of the American administration and Congress on the Renaissance Dam … stressing that his dream is to build advanced industrial Egypt and to become a key partner in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

During the past few days, the first economic conference of Egypt was held and you were one of the most prominent attendees to discuss the post-economic reform stage.. As one of the national industrialists, what prescription does the industrial sector need in the next stage to lead the developmental process in Egypt?

Industry is the future of the nation and Egypt’s path toward sustainable development. No country has advanced without industrialization; it is the “engine of growth, export and added value.

During the last 10 years, new strategies have been developed to encourage industry and investment incentives in high-value-added industries.More than 80% of countries ’investment promotion measures are in favor of industrial investment.

 To  promote the Egyptian industry quickly, we must reduce the costs of investment and production through a package of bold measures to reduce energy prices, link them to international prices, reduce interest rate, transport costs, labor, land prices, and abolish real estate taxes imposed on factories.

The trend towards productive specialization and localization of industries in the governorates, according to the advantages enjoyed by each governorate with the creation of industrial areas specializing in all services, would play a great role in stimulating sound investments. The country also needs to link industrial areas with each other and ports for export, reducing costs, deepening industry, and connecting small and large enterprises.

We should spread the ideas of industrial and investment areas in the SEZ system and promote them internally and externally.

In addition, we also need to re-enforce the role of the Industrial Development Bank and the Export Development Bank to provide finance at a low interest rate to the industry.

It is also necessary to prepare Egypt to enter the fourth industrial revolution and provide a package of incentives for international companies to boost investment in Egypt in the field of industry.

Furthermore, we must provide training programs at universities for young people in these industries. Besides linking ports, production and consumption areas, as well as linking industrial areas with a network of railways and highways, and maximizing the benefit of river transport.

So far we have not achieved our economic ambitions from the Suez Canal region .. So how can we attract the major companies to the Canal’s economic zone?

First of all, I have to salute General Mohab Mamish, because he revived this region economically. Before his tenure, it was a forgotten region and did not have facilities, but he started promoting the region globally. As a result, the region witnessed a major shift, and now there is an applicable law for the region and its board of directors is making great efforts.

Investments in the region, whether local or foreign, are increasing significantly. We currently host the Russian and Chinese economic zone. There are many countries currently studying the establishment of industrial zones, including Japan and Portugal.

We also need to develop close ties with Egypt’s economic partners, such as Germany, the United States, France and Italy, to create special economic zones for their companies, and to provide them with benefits not granted in neighboring regions.

We have huge ambitions, so it is necessary to have a well documented plan to market ourselves globally, not just in the industrial zone of the Suez Canal, but for Egypt as a whole in the fields of investments and tourism.

We need to establish an international company for the role I just mentioned, because with the Egypt’s huge capabilities we just need the right marketing tools to put of these elements together.

In my opinion, we need to organize a huge conference in Egypt’s new administrative capital and invite the biggest 300 companies in the world and ink investment deals, which are previously studied and agreed upon between the Egyptian authorities.

We need to provide these opportunities with exceptional deals in order to attract investors to Egypt’s new economic model.

This will create strong competitions between international investors that will surely put Egypt on the right path to economic growth.

The “Cleopatra Group” project represents one of the most successful models globally in many fields … The group has gone through several stages in order to reach the level it is at now. Can you walk us through this great experience and how it affected the national income and industrial fields?

“Cleopatra Group” started in Egypt in 1983, and set up the first ceramic factory in the Middle East in the tenth of Ramadan Desert, and then we moved to Sokhna in the industrial economic zone.

We were the first to enter the ceramic and porcelain industry in the country and now we have the largest ceramic factory in Egypt and the Middle East and the third or fourth in the world.

Cleopatra Group projects are spreading all over Egypt throughout  the tenth of Ramadan and northwest of the Gulf of Suez, East of Al-Uwaynat, Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, And MarsaAlam, Marsa Matrouh, Nubaria, and others..

We were among the pioneers of investment in these areas and our projects became a ‘palace’ for kings and presidents and a role model for new generations of investors.

This success did not come by chance but as a result of effort, focus and determination; I was keen to create a modern industrial generation for the first time in Egypt.

We established Cleopatra Educational Academy and brought in experts in the ceramic industry from abroad to teach Egyptian youth the basics of modern industry, production specialization, innovations and technology, in addition to the technical and scientific part of the industry.

We succeeded in creating professional Egyptian technicians, who benefited from the Egyptian market and Arab markets.

The number of workers in the industrial field only has reached 25 thousand workers, and our products are now exported to more than 100 countries around the world, including major industrial countries.

After that, the activities of the group diversified. We entered the tourism sector and established hotels and tourist villages in the northern coast, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, and MarsaAlam.

Regarding agricultural activities, we started in the east of Al-Uwaynat region, we set up a sophisticated farm and in it,we grow wheat, barley and corn to participate in alleviating the import of those important commodities that were exhausting the state budget and draining hard currency.We also set up farms in Nubaria, Tenth of Ramadan, East of Suez, Sahel Al-Tina and Wadi Al-Malak.

We succeeded in converting the deserted and remote areas into populated areas where model farms were built. We also succeeded in diversifying agricultural products, and exported our products to Europe, Russia and Malaysia.

Then we moved to the real estate development sector and established integrated cities in October, El-Sherouk and Alexandria.

Subsequently, we decided to enter the media sector through “Sada Al Balad” channels and online news websites.

The Cleopatra group’s production and service projects contributed greatly to the reconstruction of the desert regions in addition to the establishment of new markets for Egyptian products,job creation, employment qualifications, food security, and enhancement of modern technology and maximization of value added from local services.

How did Ceramica Cleopatra spread through the Japanese market and export its products to it despite it being the most difficult and the most advanced global market? Tell us about your valuable experience in Japan and how your 100% Egyptian product spread there.

This year we celebrated the silver Yobil of the 25th anniversary of the existence of Ceramica Cleopatra products in the Japanese market; we are proud of that because it is a pioneering experience.

Japan is the most difficult global market because it requires efficiency, quality and the latest technology that the world has reached.We succeeded to meet the challenge and were able to establish a prominent market throughout Japan.

My goal has always been to be the best in the world in the manufacture of ceramics, porcelain and sanitary ware, and today we are happy with what we have achieved this goal. We are now running giant projects in Japan- metro stations – Osaka airport – we have supplied our products to Japanese airports, hotels, train stations in Tokyo, hundreds of malls, hospitals, the first economic university and hundreds of schools.

Our success culminated in the award of the largest source for the Japanese market; I feel proud when I hear the saying that “a third of the Japanese population walks, on a daily basis, on our Ceramica Cleopatra products.

Products bearing the mark of Made in Egypt. This is not only a success of Ceramica Cleopatra, but also the reputation of Egypt and its products, confidence and glorification of the Egyptian product in global markets.

For years, you have enjoyed great success as a prominent businessman and industrialist… You then decided to enter the “Sada El-Balad”, so what was your goal behind this move?

Anyone who is patriotic and welcome new brilliant ideas, sets future visions and plans for the state, informs people about the importance of work, and makes them aware of the dangers being hatched against the Egyptian state.

“Sada Al-Balad” channel was created to confront media entities seeking to destroy the reputation of Egypt , which does not hesitate to spread false information in order to destroy the Egyptian state.

Thousands of rumors were circulated against Egypt, so there had to be a national channel that disseminates truth and raise awareness among Egyptians.

The channel’s vision has not changed and will remain a defender and supporter for Egyptian state and its institutions, against evil doers and terrorists.

 Did Egypt recover from the consequences of January 25, 2011, especially in the industrial sector?

The January events severely affected all sectors in Egypt and the Egyptian economy in general; we leave history to tell if Egypt will ever recover, but in general until now Egypt has not eliminated the economic consequences of 2011.

What about the challenges you had to endure during the tenure of the radical brotherhood group?

I was under terrible pressure. They were trying to blackmail any businessman and lay their hands on all what he owned. They tried to intimidate me to leave Egypt and take over my companies and factories, but I continued and defied all the threats I faced.

I have never left and never abandoned my responsibilities in this difficult period. Despite the several attempts to abuse me in several cases through fabricated stories by the evil forces, to the extent that the investigating judge,who was examining some of the cases against me,did not find any charges.

The Brotherhood was bringing false witnesses in their personal cars to testify against some businessmen misleadingly in exchange for 200 pounds.

The radical group posed all sort of problems and turned workers against me to force me to close out my business ventures.

They offered me to sell the factories to a group of allied investors in Turkey,but I stood up to them and refused to sell the factories and said: “The factories are my children and I will do everything to protect them.”

The great June 30 revolution ended their rule and terrorist practices, and we passed this arduous stage and began to feel that there is a state and we had a national duty and endured difficult circumstances, despite the great losses that we incurred during that period of fragile economy.

We endured it with our determination and we are currently re-building our country through this positive mindset.

Till this day, we are involved in an invisible war with agents of the fallen regime 24 hours a day and we are doing our best to combat them.

The terrorist group possesses a false and powerful media tools aided by Qatar and Turkey … Is the impact of their lies about Egypt still affecting the outside world?

During the last period, I was present in many international forums, “The Tokyo Tikkad Conference, the United Nations meetings and the London Stock Exchange” to convey the true image of Egypt … a stable and secure Egypt and the real progress and prosperity of our country.

I strive to make foreigners aware of the transformation and the great progress achieved in Egypt, and to change the image that evil doers tried to promote by spreading rumors and misinformation.

Today we can say that the image of Egypt has changed in the world- our country is admired by people around the world and they talk about us with love and sincerity.

Perhaps the great interest and visitors that we have seen in the exhibition of Tutankhamen reflect the passion and positive image of Egypt.

I was proud of the wonderful and sophisticated system provided by Egypt in its professional presentation of its history and civilization. Through these wonderful ideas and exhibitions, we can promote the Egyptian economy and attract new investments.

Our plan is to spread these archaeological exhibitions throughout the world especially in “Japan, China, Italy and Australia” and target new nationalities to come to Egypt for tourism and investment.

We have huge potential, human wealth, and a huge market for 1.3 billion Africans and 600 million Arabs, but we need global marketing and promotion campaigns. Egypt can, within years, be the most attractive destination for tourism.

We must complete the Holy Family Trip and Hajj Promotion project in Egypt, all of which represent new revenue and added value in the tourism industry serving 100 other industries behind it.

During your presence at the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly,  you met various high ranking individuals within the organization, including the President of the UN General Assembly and officials of the American administration, and the focus of the discussion was on the Renaissance Dam crisis .. and its impact on Egypt and the region and the need to intervene to solve it through diplomatic means .. Can you spell out the details of those meetings?

President Sisi was able to raise awareness about the Renaissance Dam file before the international community at the United Nations General Assembly.

The president spoke with full credibility about the seriousness of the matter, and presented the Egyptian view on the crisis in order to maintain the strong relations between the countries of the continent and the unity of the continent; he loves the African continent.

Then I met the President of the United Nations General Assembly and a number of prominent officials of the American administration, Congress and African leaders, and revealed the impact of the dam and its seriousness on Egypt, and everyone understood the Egyptian position and the seriousness of the issue on the safety of the region.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly stressed, during my meeting with him, that no country has the right to prevent water or to violate its agreements with another country even in cases of war between the two countries.

Water is a human right. He pledged that resolving the crisis would be his first concern and that he would intervene quickly to hold a meeting with the three parties “Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia” to reach a diplomatic solution.

Currently, negotiations on the dam are going well through the intervention of the United States of America as a partner to solve the crisis and attend negotiation among the representatives of the three countries.

Your positions are always characterized by patriotism and as honorary speaker of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliament you had a prominent role in the meetings of the United Nations in changing the image of the June 30 revolution ..What is your view?

When it comes to Egypt and its people, I will always be in the vanguard, defending the country with all my strength even if it costs me my life, for I am in love with Egypt and its soil.

Throughout my life, I have not invested in a place outside Egypt. I pump all my money in Egyptian projects, despite the huge investment incentives offered to me abroad which would have brought me huge earnings.

After the great June 30 revolution, a group of European Parliament members went to the United Nations to clarify the true image of what is happening in Egypt, and we were surprised that all the committees were certain that June 30 is a coup and that there is no revolution.

The task of correcting the matter was very difficult, and we completely change the image with evidence from videos and photos, each meeting took between 4 to 5 hours until we met at the end of the visit with Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The meeting with the former UN Chief that took more than an hour and a half to convince him that the revolution was a civil and democratic one.

We succeeded and he came out with an international statement, saying: “June 30 is a popular revolution protected by the the Egyptian army.”

After 3 years have passed since the economic reform program, what are the most important gains achieved by the industrial sector as a result of implementing various ambitious programs?

Economic reform was a necessity to confront the chronic problems of the economy, and it was like a “bitter medicine”. Everyone hated it because of its bitterness. There was no alternative but it was the way back to safety.

Indeed, reform programs began to improve; products were promoted and industry started booming, in addition to the decrease of interest rates and energy prices.

Gas prices were a very influential factor in the industry and its high prices almost caused a catastrophe for all factories; the political leadership and government responded positively; gas price was reduced and this is a very good indicator.

Also, other positive results were achieved, including the solution to the dollar problem, the restoration of growth rates, the return of tourism, and the tremendous development in infrastructure, the investment atmosphere has improved, and Egypt has embraced the idea of ​​specialized industrial zones.

What is the dream of the industrialist Mohammed Aboul Enein?

I strive to establish developed industries in the country, to build an advanced and industrial Egypt, and to become an active part and essential partner in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as addressing the whole world and attract global industrial investors in future industries that have high added value.

My dream is to develop a product written on it “Made in Egypt” with local materials, expertise and international technology.

You always have liberal economic ideas, so how can Egyptian exports grow to become the primary source of foreign currency? How can we penetrate the African and Arab markets with Egyptian products?

We must define our goal of exporting, which means that it is necessary to have a high-quality product with which we can compete in foreign markets, whether industrial, real estate or agricultural.

Competition has become very fierce and strong, and in order to promote exports, the costs of production must be reducedin order to place the Egyptian products on an equal footing with its counterparts around the world.

We must also formulate plans for production for the huge African market that countries compete over, linking Egypt with direct shipping lines to Africa and implementing the President’s initiative to construct the Cairo Road / Cape Town.

The initiative will ensure that Egyptian products reach the markets of 10 countries in East Africa within a period of no more than 4 days, as well as establishing logistic centers for Egyptian goods in Africa.

In addition we must call for the participation of Egyptian companies in foreign exhibitions and expand the establishment of branches of Egyptian banks in Africa.

Egypt has a comparative advantage in producing certain products. What are they?

Furniture products in Damietta, and they must be developed in order to maintain that comparative advantage, and there are other goods that we may have a comparative advantage in, especially the ones that have a global demand- chemical industries, building materials, textiles, electronics, industries of the future and electric cars.

We need to develop strategies to encourage enhance these sectors and stimulate investments in them.

How do you see the year 2020 for the Egyptian economy? Will it be the beginning of the second stage of economic reform?

I have great optimism, and the beginning of 2020 will witness a new chapter in Egypt’s economic boom.

President Sisi is a brave national leader who gained the respect of the world with credibility and honor; he succeeded greatly in changing Egypt’s image externally in only 5 years, and proved to the world that Egypt is serious about reform and has great credibility in achievement both in security and politics.

Our president has proven that Egypt is strong on the political scene in the region, and has succeeded in achieving unprecedented rates in many different areas such as low unemployment rates, inflation, relatively high per capita income, increased foreign exchange reserves to $ 45 billion.

The country is striving to establish a strong infrastructure through a huge road network, construct new tunnels, easeentry and exit from Sinai through these tunnels, build 14 new cities, including the administrative capital- the most recent technologically advanced city in the world.

The capital is located in an area larger than Singapore and Paris, coupled with the security stability that was achieved, thanks to the armed forces and the police in defending the Egyptian soil.

We give due credit to a president and leader who believes in the power and ability of his people who played a great role in achieving the impossible, in addition to the great people who trusted in its leader and stood behind him.

Sisi was able to map Egypt’s future, and restore Egypt’s real position regionally and globally, and gave great attention to the private sector as a partner and a key supporter in economic progress. President Sisi’s accomplishments will be cemented in history and our grandchildren will narratethe stories of what he accomplished with pride.

Egypt will become among the top 10 global economies in 2030, so we have to work hard, increase productivity and think about the next stage.

We also need to encourage the local private sector to increase its investments and activities in order to attract foreign capital and attract large companies in order to pump huge funds into the Egyptian economy; this will only come with incentives encouragement and applicable laws.

President Sisi asserted that 2020 would be the year of industry. How do you see this initiative?

We must all support the president’s initiative. President Sisi always keeps his promises.

That is always our pledge with him. The president is able to make 2020 the year of industry and I am certain that Egyptian businesspersons and investors are with the president. They welcome this initiative wholeheartedly.

We call for 2020 to be the year of industry. I call for the necessity of forming a higher council for industry that includes all entities “investment, housing, industry, local administration … and others” along the lines of the Supreme Investment Council, and its subordination to the president directly so that he has the freedom to make necessary decisions; this council should be entrusted with solving industry problems efficiently.

 What is your final word to Arab and Egyptian businesspersons?

The survival of Egypt is vital because it provides safety to all the countries of the region. President Sisi is the protector of Egypt and the entire Arab region. The vast majority of Egyptian businesspersons are honest and put the interest of their country above their own; they are loyal to their homeland, and will always support the president in his quest for development.