Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi faced criticism over the use of a 4km red carpet for his motorcade on his way to preach austerity.
The Egyptian president was on his way to open a new social housing project in Cairo and at the same time, preach austerity to help steer economic reform.
As images of the giant red carpet emerged, they drew a wave of disbelief, criticism and ridicule on social media, with a hashtag mocking the carpet trending in arabic and one local Egyptian newspaper dedicating the front page to the incident.
The Al-Maqal newspaper headline read: “How is the president asking us to tighten our belts while the 4 kilometre red carpet says otherwise?”
El-Sissi was one of the key players in overthrowing the Egyptian leadership in 2013 and has staked his reputation on resuscitating a struggling Egyptian economy. Previous leaders of the country, such as Hosni Mubarak used state money to heavily subsidise essentials such as water to quell any meaningful dissent. It was clear from El-Sissi’s austerity statement, he believes if Egypt is to flourish economically, the country needs to disentangle itself from such sponsorship.
During the speech, he said the state spends around £40m per day to provide clean water, with only a small part of this cost being passed onto consumers: “One cubic meter of water that reaches you costs me this much, and you are taking it by that much, and the state is unable to continue this way.”
The normally tight-lipped Egyptian military made a comment on the 4km red carpet, explaining that the el-Sissi administration didn’t buy the carpet, they just had it laying around and thought it would be cool to use it.
Brig. Gen. Ehab el-Ahwagy told prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb, “It gives a kind of joy and assurance to the Egyptian citizen that our people and our land and our armed forces are always capable of organizing anything in a proper manner.”