Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly


Compiled by Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

Sherif Ismail: Tough Mission

Asked about the first task ahead of him, the newly appointed Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said, “Organising the parliamentary elections.” And indeed the elections are a tough start and a real test for the new official. However, the more pressing task is to select the ministers who will form his government. That selection is crucial to the performance of the government which is supposed to stay in power until the first meeting of the elected parliament.


Ismail was the minister of Petroleum and Oil resources in three consecutive governments starting from Hazem Al-Beblawi's, formed in July 2013, when he managed to repay $3.6bn of overdue balances to foreign partners in the oil sector. The debts had accumulated during the period from 2009 until 2013. He played a major role in partially resolving Egypt’s energy crisis, and began to import a liquefied natural gas, a step that contributed to reducing the power shortage Egypt has been facing every summer.


Ismail managed to convince foreign partners to increase their investments in Egypt through signing 56 new agreements to undertake search and excavation programmes for oil and gas, with investments worth $13bn. Perhaps the most important achievement in his career, however, was finding a huge gas reservoir in the Zohr field. The announcement was made by the Italian energy company ENI last month. That discovery was labelled the biggest in the Mediterranean.


Ismail graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanics at Ain Shams University in 1978. He assumed various jobs in the oil sector until he became undersecretary at the Ministry of Petroleum, and was assigned to follow the affairs of oil and gas operations from 2000 to 2005. He was then appointed chairman of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) until 2007. He was also the head of Ganoub Al-Wadi Petroleum Holding Company from 2007 to 2013, before heading the Ministry of Petroleum. He was appointed prime minister and asked to form the government on 12 September. Recent media reports that raise questions about his role as a witness to the Egyptian government agreement to export gas to Israel with lower prices than the international average are an indication of how tough his job is going to be. Ismail was the Ministry of Petroleum undersecretary at the time.


Another dark spot is his relationship with self-claimed journalist-politician Mohamed Fouda, who was recently arrested and detained pending investigations in the corruption probe at the Ministry of Agriculture. That corruption scandal is believed to be one of the main reasons behind the resignation of Ibrahim Mehleb’s cabinet.


Photos showing Fouda meeting Ismail at the ministry as well with him at Fouda’s home in Gharbiya have been circulated online in the last few days.


“The resignation of Hazem Al-Beblawi's government was a declaration of the end of the phase of partnership between the government and the president. After that, we are back to governments of employees who just listen to orders. Mehleb headed the government twice, once under president Adli Mansour and the other time under President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. In both governments, he chose his ministers from among state employees, businessmen and academics who have no ambition, vision or a project on how to combat corruption.”

Mohamed Saad Abdel-Hafiz, Al-Shorouk



The new government

“Some people linked Mehleb’s resignation to the Minister of Agriculture Salah Helal's corruption scandal, while others linked it to a series of crises that came to our attention recently; namely, the issue of the girl who scored zero in the Thanaweya Amma exam and the decision of the Minister of Higher Education to exempt the sons of officers and judges from the principle of enrolling in universities according to geographical location.”

Shaimaa Adel, Al-Watan


“I would have liked Sherif Ismail to remain minister of petroleum because his ministry has seen a quiet but major reform under his leadership and hopes were reignited as a result of the agreements that he concluded last year, the most famous of which was the discovery of gas under the Mediterranean Sea by the Italian company ENI.”

Salah Montasser, Al-Ahram




A sound political life


“It is difficult to build a sound political party system when we have only 800,000 persons who belong to political parties. Thus, during the parliamentary elections, parties rush to bargain for the loyalty of independent candidates in return for paying part or all their election expenses. This is an absolute failure of the parties. We will not succeed in establishing a genuine democracy and proper rotation of power until we improve the political party system.”

Tarek Al-Khouli, Al-Youm Al-Sabei



Not enough anger


“We may have shown enough anger for the drowning of the Syrian boy, Elan. But no one bothered about the 30 Egyptian fishermen who recently drowned on the Libyan shore. Is this because their pictures were not published by international news agencies? It seems as if we care about the lives and blood of victims only when the outside world cares.”

Abdel-Nasser Salama, Al-Masry Al-Youm




“History will cite you many times. Egypt and the Egyptians will not forget an honest and patriotic man like you, Mehleb. Appreciation, respect and thanks for your excellence.”

Amy Ahmed


“Why should we thank him? The only thing that he did was to ask the young to drive tuk-tuks to earn money. Other than that, he did nothing. We do not want to see him again.”

Mazen Mohammed





Jakaya Kikwete @jmkikwete  

Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Saudi Arabia and families of the pilgrims inflicted by the tragic crane accident in #Mecca.


Old Holborn @Holbornlolz  

The crane that crashed on Mecca mosque on 9/11 is owned by the Bin Laden family.


sherief gaber @sheriefgbr  

Egypt’scabinet just resigned in the wake of a corruption scandal, but don’t hold your breath that the next one is going to look any better.


arabist @arabist  

Have been offline all day travelling. It appears Jeremy Corbin’s election triggered the resignation of Egypt’s cabinet and peace in libya.


Steven A. Cook @stevenacook  

#Egypt cabinet resignation. Sisi getting down to business, consolidating power.



Egyptian Essence

12 million tourists

“Tourism will be back to its normal rates by the winter of 2016. However, we expect an increase in tourism this year to reach 12 million with a revenue of LE 10 billion.”


add comment

  • follow us on