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Sisi's austerity: Egypt holds $3.6 million youth conference Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Sisi's austerity: Egypt holds $3.6 million youth conference

Egypt's President Sisi has recently introduced a range of austerity measures [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 October, 2016

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As ordinary Egyptians brace themselves for tough economic times, the government is splashing out on a lavish youth conference to show a positive face to the outside world.

An multi-million dollar your conference is being held in Egypt, as the country gears up for punishing austerity measures that will most likely impact on the poorest Egyptians.

Egypt's "first national conference for young people" kicked off at the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday, with the state's coffers covering the travel and accomodation costs for 3,500 guests.

A source close to the organisers told The New Arab that the guests' expenses, which includes Egypt Air flights, rooms in five star hotels and the renting of conference halls, will rack up a bill of 32 million Egyptian pounds [$3.6 million].

The lavish affair comes amid calls from Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the tightening of budgets and austerity measures. This has sparked discontent throughout Egypt, with activists calling for public demonstrations in November against rising prices.

In response to the conference, activists have launched their own parallel event to be held on social media platforms. They aim to highlight the frustrations of Egypt's youth, forced disappearances, torture and the imprisonment of young activists.

The organising activists - who number around 150 - have announced their rejection of the event which they have described as "the culmination of years of oppression and marginalisation of young people, to complement the absurdity of a series of dialogues that do not result in anything".

Egypt's economy is currently under huge strain, with the country's government currently in the process of securing a $12 billion aid package from the IMF. During this current fiscal year, Egypt's deficit crossed the 300 billion pound mark.

Despite the country's pressed economy, this is not the first time that Egypt's political elite have splashed out for a show.

On 9 and 10 October, Egypt's parliament held a concert in Sharm el-Sheikh, running up a bill of over $3 million. The event was held for members of Egypt's house of representatives and delegates from neighbouring Arab and African nations.

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