Egyptian collector founds political party
Naguib Sawiris hopes to play a role in transforming the country into a “civil democracy”
By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 25 August 2011
CAIRO. A leading Egyptian collector hopes to play a pivotal role in Egypt’s political revolution following the downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February. Naguib Sawiris, who established the largest mobile phone operator in the Middle East in 2001, Orascom Telecom, has founded his own political party Al Masryeen Al Ahrar (The Free Egyptians).
“I have decided to be more focused on social and political work, aiming to play a role in the transformation of post-revolution Egypt into a civil democracy,” Sawiris said in a statement after he stood down as chairman of Orascom Telecom earlier this year.
The military is acting as a de facto government in Egypt until elections this autumn while Mubarak is on trial in Cairo accused of corruption and conspiring to kill protestors during the uprising earlier this year.
A profile of Sawiris in the 2010 publication Art & Patronage: The Middle East (TransGlobe Publishing) outlines how the billionaire businessman recently purchased a piece by Egyptian artist Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar (1925-65) for almost $280,000. He also plans to build a museum in Cairo to house his collection of modern Egyptian art. “In readiness, he is busy purchasing and storing work from the widows of famous Egyptian artists, with the intention of keeping them for the museum,” according to the publication.
In June, Sawiris caused controversy when he tweeted cartoons of Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing conservative Muslim attire, although he later apologised for the incident.
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