The cabinet's new look
provides a comprehensive overview of the new cabinet
President Hosni Mubarak has approved Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif's 34- member cabinet. The group includes 15 ministers who remain in their posts, three who were given new portfolios, two whose portfolios have been downgraded, and 14 newcomers.
The newcomers have taken charge of the foreign, agriculture, education, higher education and scientific research, tourism, justice, administrative development, local development, youth, communication and information, environment and transport ministries.
While eleven members of Atef Ebeid's outgoing cabinet lost their jobs altogether, former Information Minister Safwat El-Sherif became Shura Council speaker and former Communications and Information Technology Minister Nazif took Ebeid's job. Ebeid's transport minister died a week before the reshuffle.
Those retaining their posts are Defence and Military Production Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, Interior Minister Habib El-Adli, Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, Utilities and Urban Communities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Suleiman, Supply Minister Hassan Khedr, Manpower and Immigration Minister Ahmed El-Amawi, Waqf (Religious Endowments) Minister Hamdi Zaqzouq, Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mahmoud Abu Zeid, Social Affairs and Insurance Minister Amina El-Guindi, Military Production Minister Sayed Meshal, Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi, Planning Minister Mohamed Osman, Electricity Minister Hassan Younis, Health and Population Minister Mohamed Awad Tageddin and Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq.
Youssef Boutros Ghali went from Foreign Trade to Finance, while Mamdouh El-Beltagui jumped from Tourism to Information.
Kamal El-Shazli's portfolio, meanwhile, was halved. Although he remains state minister for People's Assembly Affairs, former Higher Education Minister Mufid Shehab is now the State Minister for Shura Council Affairs. Fayza Abul- Naga's portfolio -- as foreign affairs and international cooperation minister -- was also renamed the Ministry of International Cooperation.
A new Ministry for Investment Development was also created, while the Ministry of Public Enterprise was cancelled. The industry and foreign trade portfolios were also combined into one ministry.
Culture Minister Hosni is now the longest-serving minister, having held his post since October 1987. Defence Minister Tantawi has held his post since May 1991, while Ghali, El-Shazli, El- Beltagui, Suleiman and El-Amawi joined the cabinet for the first time in October 1993. In January 1996, Zaqzouq became a minister, while Shehab and Abu Zeid joined the cabinet in July 1997. In November 1997, El-Adli came on board; El-Guindi, Meshal, and Fahmi took over their posts in October 1999, while Osman and Younis became ministers in November 2001. Of the ministers who survived this week's reshuffle, Tageddin and Shafiq had served the least amount of time, taking over their posts in March 2002.
The newcomers are: Ahmed Abul- Gheit, replacing Ahmed Maher at the Foreign Ministry; Ahmed El-Leithi, replacing Youssef Wali at the Agriculture Ministry; Ahmed Gamaleddin Moussa, replacing Hussein Kamel Bahaeddin at the Education Ministry; Amr Salama, replacing Mufid Shehab at the Higher Education and Scientific Research Ministry; Mahmoud Abul-Leil, replacing Farouk Seif El-Nasr at the Justice Ministry; Ahmed Darwish, replacing Mohamed Zaki Abu Amer at the State Ministry for Administrative Development; Abdel-Rehim Shehata, replacing Mustafa Abdel-Qader at the Local Development Ministry; Anas El-Fiqi, replacing Alieddin Hilal at the Youth Ministry; Maged George, replacing Mamdouh Riyad at the Environment Ministry; Ali El-Maghrabi, replacing Mamdouh El- Beltagui at the Tourism Ministry; Tarek Kamel, replacing Ahmed Nazif at the Communications and Information Technology Ministry; Essam Sharaf, replacing the late Hamdi El-Shayeb at the Transport Ministry; and Rashid Mohamed, replacing both Ali El-Saeidi and Ghali at the newly-combined Industry and Foreign Trade Ministry. Mahmoud Mohieddin became the minister of the new Investment Development Ministry
Although many expected the new cabinet to include more women and Copts, only Abul-Naga and El-Guindi -- two women who were already ministers -- made the cut, while Ghali and newly appointed Environment Minister Maged George are the only Copts.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of the cabinet newcomers is their age -- Mohieddin, at 39, is the youngest in decades. The other "young" ministers are Kamel (42), El-Fiqi (44), Darwish (45), and Mohamed (49).
The remaining ministers range in age from early 50s (Ghali, Sharaf, Moussa, Salama, and Abul-Naga), mid to late 50s (Fahmi, Osman, George, El-Adli, Suleiman, Younis, Khedr and Tageddin), early 60s (Abul-Gheit, El- Guindi, Meshal, Beltagui and Shafiq), mid to late 60s (El-Leithi, Shehab, Abu Zeid, Hosni, Abul-Leil, Shehata, Tantawi and El-Shazli), to over-70 (El- Amawi and Zaqzouq).
In a related development, career diplomat Maged Abdel-Fattah was named presidential spokesman -- the first time the post has existed since Mubarak took office in 1981.
Many of them are new to the cabinet; a few took on new posts. Al-Ahram Weekly looks into their records with an eye on clues as to the new government's policy directions
AHMED ABUL-GHEIT, FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Some would say Ahmed Abul-Gheit's posting as foreign minister came three years late. Egypt's permanent representative to the UN in New York was first linked to the top diplomat job in 2001 when former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa became Arab League secretary-general. The job, however, ended up going to retired diplomat Ahmed Maher.
Last May, Abul-Gheit's name surfaced again, along with several other senior diplomats, including Ahmed Maher's brother Ali, also a retired ambassador, and Egyptian Ambassador in Washington Nabil Fahmi.
"Abul-Gheit got the job due to his professional seniority and extensive experience," a well- informed source said. "He has the right blend of diplomatic and administrative skills. During his four years in New York he worked directly with President Mubarak, and he came across as a hands-on ambassador who operates smoothly and quietly. The president chose him personally," the source added.
According to several senior Egyptian diplomats who asked that their names be withheld, choosing Egypt's permanent representative to the UN -- the most senior Egyptian multilateral post -- was compatible with Egyptian diplomacy's need to provide increasing attention to its multilateral relations, in order to balance its relations with Washington, which have been going through a tough phase as a result of biased US policies on the Middle East.
"Over the past three years we ignored our multilateral ties," a senior Egyptian diplomat said, "which caused us considerable losses, especially in light of the fact that we did not achieve much on the bilateral fronts with either the US, or other key world capitals, including Paris, Tokyo and Beijing."
A recent example that this and other diplomats use to demonstrate the collapse in Egypt's multilateral connections is Egyptian diplomacy's failure to win Cairo the right to host the headquarters of the African Parliament during the Summit of African Union earlier this month.
With an impressive record in administering bilateral and multilateral foreign relations alike, the 62-year old Abul-Gheit is considered an excellent administrator who for four years, during the second half of the 1990s, was chief of then Foreign Minister Amr Moussa's cabinet. "He always knew how to run things in a very firm but elegant fashion. He never lost his temper, but he never failed to be in command," said Hesham Youssef, who is currently the Arab League secretary-general's chief of staff.
According to Youssef, who served under Abul- Gheit in Moussa's cabinet, the new foreign minister "always managed to get diverse groups of people to work in perfect harmony and deliver on time. He is an orchestra conductor by nature," Youssef said.
A good foreign policy conductor, observers have repeatedly stressed, is what Egyptian diplomacy desperately needs right now. Egypt has pressing foreign policy worries that need to be attended immediately: a crumbling Middle East situation that is unlikely to receive any credible international attention before this year's US presidential elections; a complex situation in Iraq with hardly any signs of stability being restored to the country; and an unmistakably contentious development in Sudan where the Khartoum government has been under serious international pressure over its relations with armed opposition in the country's west and south.
Abul-Gheit has to attend to other daunting tasks as well: fixing Egyptian ties with the US; strengthening Cairo's rapport with Russia and European capitals; re-visiting the traditional Egyptian- African links; and raising Egypt's profile on the multilateral Arab and international fronts.
YOUSSEF BOUTROS GHALI, FINANCE: It took 11 years and 5 ministries for 52-year-old Youssef Boutros Ghali to finally find himself heading his domain of expertise, as a minister of finance. After earning his PhD in "Debt Rescheduling" from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981, he worked on monetary and fiscal policies for six years as an economist at the International Monetary Fund. Returning to Egypt in 1986, he taught macroeconomics at Cairo University, moonlighting as an American University in Cairo lecturer, until chosen by Prime Minister Atef Sidqi as an economic adviser in 1987.
A descendant of a politically influential family (his grandfather Boutros Pasha Ghali was a prime minister, and his uncle is former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali), he first became a minister at the age of 41. Ghali, who is fluent in five languages (French, English, Spanish, Italian and Arabic), was one of the leading architects of the economic reform policy of the early 1990s, and one of the major supporters of the opening up of Egypt's economy.
After serving as a state minister for international cooperation from 1993-96, Ghali was marginalised during Kamal El-Ganzouri's three-year reign as prime minister, even though he remained in the cabinet as minister of state, and even became economy minister in 1997. In 1999, he became minister of economy and foreign trade, a portfolio that was halved to only foreign trade when the economy ministry was cancelled in 2002.
As finance minister, reducing the budget deficit and customs duties, reforming the tax system and customs administration to restore taxpayer confidence, improving debt management, catalysing the privatisation of public banks, and using fiscal policy more efficiently to increase growth and jobs, will most likely be his priorities.
Initially, however, he will have to address contentious issues like the large public debt and budget deficit (6.5 per cent of GDP), alleged irregularities amongst his staff, and the widespread tax evasion that seems to be especially concentrated in firms owned by rich businessmen.
Working against Ghali's traditionally strong ties to the business community, however, will be the finance ministry's reputation, ruined by the negative image borne of uneven tax collection policies.
Ghali's determination and persistence, as well as a distinguished team of advisers, should work in his favour. The fact that the three key players on the nation's economic team -- namely Ghali, Central Bank Governor Farouk El-Okda and Mahmoud Mohieddin, the new investment minister who was Ghali's right hand man and senior adviser for six years until 2002 -- share, for the first time in recent cabinets, similar economic philosophies and strategies, should also be a plus.
MAHMOUD MOHIEDDIN, INVESTMENT DEVELOPMENT: Mahmoud Mohieddin, chairman of the NDP's Economic Committee and member of its general and policies committees, is positioned at the heart of the ruling party's economic policy formulation. The 39-year-old economist is a vocal proponent of greater political freedoms and radical economic reforms.
His outspoken critiques of the outgoing government's performance, often blaming many of the country's economic woes on "mismanagement", have made headlines. Often his criticism has been so harsh that many thought he would never make it to decision-making ranks.
Now, he has been brought in to implement many of the prescriptions he has offered on various occasions. He will be allowed to test some of the recommendations made in numerous studies he has conducted on privatisation, investment and financing, capital market performance, mortgage financing and anti-trust regulations.
With the new Investment Development portfolio, Mohieddin will be in charge of the defunct Public Enterprise Sector Ministry, as well as the General Authority for Investment and the Capital Market Authority. In that position he must work to stimulate foreign direct investment in the country, which in the past few years has dropped to a meagre $0.5 billion. Mohieddin is expected also to breathe life into the privatisation process, expanding the list of public sector companies slated for privatisation.
With the Capital Market Authority under his umbrella, Mohieddin will need to introduce new investment instruments, or activate existing ones.
Mohieddin has been on record as blaming "many of the problems that we are facing today" on procrastination in adopting harsh measures in the past. Also, he engineered the new mortgage and banking laws passed during the past few years, as well as the anti-trust and competition law that has yet to come out of parliament.
He received his PhD in economics from Warwick University in 1995 on "financial liberalisation policies in developing countries". He is also an associate professor of economics at Cairo University, and was adviser to Youssef Boutros Ghali during his various ministerial posts from 1997-2002. He has also been a Central Bank of Egypt board member since 1999.
RASHID MOHAMED, INDUSTRY AND FOREIGN TRADE: Industrialists must have cheered when Alexandria native Rashid Mohamed Rashid was named industry minister, since someone with practical experience running a manufacturing business would finally be in charge.
Rashid, 49, is to head the Ministry of Industry and Trade, a merge pundits said should have occurred long ago, considering how the two sectors complement each other.
With a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Alexandria University, and several advanced management programmes from Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School, Rashid was president of Unilever's North Africa, Middle East and Turkey operations.
Rashid's career at Unilever began in 1991 when the company acquired Fine Foods, the business he inherited from his father Mohamed Rashid. After the acquisition, Rashid was made chairman of Unilever Egypt with responsibility for new business development in the Middle East.
Rashid has been active in the Alexandrine and Cairo business scenes, as well as internationally.
He is a member of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and has been an investment consultant for the Turkish government. He was a member of the Egyptian American President's Council, and is also a board member of the Social Fund for Development, as well as the Future Generation Foundation.
A father of three, he is actively involved in Alexandria's social and community services, sponsoring hospitals, orphanages, and art. He is chairman of the Alexandria Development Centre, an NGO that seeks to develop and mobilise resources for the regional development and revival of Alexandria. He also chairs the Friends of the Arts Association, established by his father, who owned an art collection of more than 1,500 pieces.
TAREQ KAMEL, COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Kamel, who holds a PhD in computer networks from the Technical University of Munich, had been outgoing Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) Minister Ahmed Nazif's senior adviser since the ministry was founded in 1999. Prior to that, he founded the Communications and Networking Department at the Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC), again working under Nazif. He is an insider in every sense of the word.
A modernist and technocrat, Kamel is reputed to have been the mastermind behind several of the sector's visionary projects. In his role at MCIT, Kamel managed the Egyptian Internet gateway, servicing over 50 commercial ISPs and hundreds of government organisations.
A reputed reformist, Kamel's work extended into liberalisation issues such as a tax reduction for ISPs as well as a government/private sector partnership to serve the Egyptian Internet community. One of the ministry's most successful projects -- that of establishing community centres in remote areas to give all Egyptians access to Internet -- had Kamel very much at its core.
Colleagues at the ministry call the incoming minister the "brain".
Kamel has been involved in numerous national and international organisations: he co-founded the Internet Society of Egypt, on which he serves as secretary; he has been a member of the programme committee of INET'99 at San Jose, and in INET'98 he was a member of the organising group of the Developing Countries Symposium. From 1999-2002 he served as vice president of the board of trustees of the Internet Society (ISOC) in Virginia.
Known to work long hours supporting the backbone of the ministry's activities, Kamel has thus far seldom been seen in the national public light except when delivering lectures and partaking in technical-type events. He will have to work on balancing that behind-the-scenes approach to work, with the demands of holding public office.
Having served as a board member of Telecom Egypt since 2000, Kamel understands the dynamics involved in implementing liberalisation and automation projects that touch every person's pockets. One of his main interests is Internet deployment in developing countries using simple technologies. To that end, it is expected Kamel will further increase CIT penetration in the country.
With Kamel as CIT minister, and Nazif as PM, the sector's agenda will undoubtedly be mainstreamed. Kamel's challenge will be to step aside and objectively assess MCIT and identify the problem-areas which have thus far escaped media- scrutiny, overshadowed perhaps by the ministry's successes.
AHMED EL-LEITHI, AGRICULTURE: Born in 1939, El-Leithi graduated from Cairo University's Faculty of Agriculture in 1960. His master's degree was in land reclamation, a specialisation that has also been the focus of his 40-year career.
He has served as an Agriculture Ministry land reclamation engineer, project manager and land research specialist. In 1971, he was named deputy chairman of the Western Nubaria sector. In 1994, he became a consultant to the public enterprise minister, and in 1996, the board chairman of the Agricultural Development Holding Company. He became Beheira governor in 1999.
El-Leithi's goals as minister include introducing more modern agricultural technology to the sector, with the aim of upgrading both the quality and productivity of agricultural crops, as well as increasing the volume of exportation.
Weeding out fraud at the ministry will be his major challenge. Over the past few years, several top ranking ministry officials have been mired in high-profile corruption cases.
AHMED GAMALEDDIN MOUSSA, EDUCATION: Born in 1951, Moussa obtained his Bachelor degree from Cairo University's Faculty of Law. His PhD -- in General Law and General Finances -- is from France.
Moussa has been Mansoura University President since 2003; previously he was a law professor, then head of the Economics and General Finance Department, deputy for student affairs, and deputy to the president.
AMR EZZAT SALAMA, HIGHER EDUCATION AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: Born in 1951, Salama is a Cairo University engineering graduate who served as a researcher at the Construction Research Institute until 1976.
From 1976-1979, he did post graduate studies at Manchester University, UK, and worked as a design engineer at a London-based company.
In 1981 he became an engineering professor at Helwan University, eventually becoming Helwan University President in 2002.
ESSAM SHARAF, TRANSPORT: Born in 1952, Sharaf is a Cairo University engineering graduate who received his Master's degree and PhD from Purdue University in the US.
Sharaf was a consultant of former Transport Minister Ibrahim El-Demeiri's. When El-Demeiri resigned in February 2002, following a horrific train accident that left more than 300 people dead, it was rumored that Sharaf would replace him.
Hamdi El-Shayeb, who replaced El-Demeiri, died last week of a sudden heart attack.
ABDEL-REHIM SHEHATA, LOCAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER: Born in 1936, Shehata has been the governor of Fayoum, Giza and Cairo. The Cairo University chemistry graduate obtained his PhD in genetics and agronomy at the University of Minnesota in the US.
MAHMOUD ABUL-LEIL, JUSTICE MINISTER: Born in 1936, Abul-Leil graduated from Cairo University's Faculty of Law in 1958.
From an initial posting in the general prosecution office, he went on to occupy several judicial posts, eventually chairing a Cairo Criminal Court in 1988.
In 1996, Abul-Leil was appointed governor of Kafr El-Sheikh, and in 1999 he became governor of Giza.
ANAS EL-FIQI, YOUTH: Born in 1960 in Gharbiya, El-Fiqi's bachelor's degree is in business administration from Cairo University.
After working as a marketing manager for a UK- based encyclopedia company, he formed his own translation, publication and distribution company.
He has been Cultural Palaces Organisation chairman since 2002.
MAGED GEORGE, STATE MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AFFAIRS: Born in 1949, George graduated from the Military Academy in 1972, and took part in the October War a year later.
He has been chief of staff at the military works department, and a military attaché in Italy.
His most recent post was chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority.
AHMED DARWISH, ADMINISTRATIVE DEVELOPMENT: Born in 1959, Darwish is a Cairo University engineering graduate with a PhD in computer engineering philosophy from the US.
Prepared by Neveen Wahish, Yasmine El-Rashidi, Yasser Sobhi, Mona El-Nahhas and Jailan Halawi