The General Authority for Reconstruction Projects and Agriculture Development (GARPAD) finalised the terms of reference of a bid to reclaim a total area of 40,000 acres in Sinai in April, executive director of GARPAD Magdy Amin announced.
A total area of 10,000 acres of the aforementioned area will be allocated exclusively to Sinai locals through a “closed bid”, Amin said in a press conference on Saturday.
The United Arab Emirates offered to finance the reclamation process, which will be carried out by the armed forces, Amin said.
Amin added that the bid will be performed in two phases; the first, which will commence mid-April, includes issuing the terms of reference. The application process will last one month, and subsequently, the bid will be held during the second half of May.
Applicants who are eligible for participation in the bid are recent graduates and young farmers from all governorates, Amin said, noting that investment companies will not be permitted to participate.
Land reclamation is the suitable solution for reconstructing the Sinai Peninsula in the long-term, said Deco Company for Agricultural Reclamation Chairman Alaa Diab, adding that land reclamation utilises larger areas when compared to the establishment of industrial or commercial projects.
However, Diab described the 40,000 acre land as a “small area” in Sinai.
Diab said the project would help create urban communities in the region and supply locals in Sinai with agricultural products.
“But we want to know the cost of the project,” Diab added, noting that finding a sufficient water supply would pose a challenge during the reclamation process, due to the low availability of water in the area.
Earlier in February, Minister of Agriculture Ayman Abu Hadid announced that locals in Sinai would be granted the right to own land on the peninsula, state-owned Ahram reported. A total area of 40,000 acres was tendered by the ministry to investors at the end of February, with 8,000 acres allocated to Sinai locals, according to Al-Ahram.
Under former President Mohamed Morsi, the government permitted land ownership in Sinai by residents “for investment purposes”.
The Sinai Peninsula has suffered from growing instability following Morsi’s ouster in July 2013. The armed forces, in coordination with Central Security Forces, initiated an “extensive campaign” to eradicate militants from Sinai, the Ministry of Interior said in February.
Militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Sinai during the past few months, which include shooting down a military helicopter in January and bombing a tourist bus in February.