* UAE funds strategic wheat project
* Wheat project part of $4.9 bln aid package
By Rania El Gamal
DUBAI, May 26 The United Arab Emirates and Egypt
have awarded contracts to build two wheat silos in northern
Egypt as part of an assistance package financed by the UAE, and
more deals are expected soon, a UAE state minister told a
newspaper on Monday.
The UAE is one of the main financial supporters of the
army-backed government in Egypt and has showered the north
African country with cash and petroleum products since the
military ousted elected Islamist president Mohammed Mursi.
Along with money to build clinics, schools and housing, the
Gulf Arab state has offered to fund a project in Egypt's
strategic wheat sector - the construction of 25 wheat silos that
could help the world's biggest wheat importer lower its huge
"Contracts to build two wheat silos in Amiriya and Damietta
have been awarded and it is expected that contracts to build
more silos that are financed by the UAE will be awarded soon,"
minister Sultan al-Jaber told UAE local daily al-Khaleej.
The total storage capacity for the 25 silos will be 1.5
million tonnes, added Jaber, the UAE official in charge of aid
to Egypt. A source in the minister's office confirmed the
comments made to the paper and said any deals are awarded
according to an agreement by both the UAE and Egypt.
Bread is a politically-explosive issue in Egypt - failure to
supply it at an affordable price has triggered major riots in
the past and the government wants to boost its storage capacity
to reduce its reliance on international markets.
The silos project is part of the UAE's $4.9 billion aid
package announced in October. The government says the silos
project should help prevent the loss of 1.6 million tonnes -
around half a billion dollars worth - of wheat a year.
Egypt's struggling economy has yet to recover from the
popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Intermittent
violence and political instability over the past three years
have scared off foreign tourists and investors.
The UAE has welcomed the rise of former army chief Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi, the frontrunner in Egypt's presidential
Jaber said on Saturday the UAE will continue its political
and economic support for Egypt after the vote, which starts on
Compared to other major donors Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the
UAE has taken a more hands-on approach in its support for Cairo.
The minister said the UAE had a plan to revive Egypt's economy
and put it back on track.
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)