Egypt billionaire offers to buy island for refugees

Egypt billionaire offers to buy island for refugees

Egypt billionaire offers to buy island for refugees

Written by Staff Writer

05 Sep, 2015 | 3:42 pm

An Egyptian billionaire is offering to buy an island for people fleeing to Europe from war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Naguib Sawiris, one of the region’s wealthiest men, said “there is no limit” on what he is willing to spend to buy an island from Italy or Greece — where thousands have been arriving — to provide the refugees with a new home.

“Greece or Italy, sell me an island,” Sawiris tweeted.

He even suggested a name for the new country: “Hope.”

He said there are dozens of empty islands off of Greece and Italy that could handle 100,000 to 200,000 people. And he rejected a suggestion that it was a “ridiculous” idea.

“It’s a very simple solution,” he told CNN Friday. “They sell the island to me and I’ll make a temporary shelter for these people. I’ll make a small port or marina for the boats to land there. I’ll employ the people to build their own homes, their schools, a hospital, a university, a hotel,” he said.

Sawiris, the chief executive of telecom group Orascom TMT, said the people would be free to return home at any time or stay on the island.

Greek and Italian officials were not available to comment on the proposal.

Sawiris said, “I sometimes think the politicians don’t have a heart.”

Sawiris is one of Egypt’s best known businessmen, and also founder of a political party. He comes from a family of entrepreneurs; his brother Nassef is chairman of Orascom Construction Industries, one of Egypt’s most valuable publicly traded companies.


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