Egypt's Arab neighbors and international partners, including the United States, gathered Friday in the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to pledge economic and moral support for rebuilding the tattered Egyptian economy through investment, restructuring and transparency.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi opened the economic conference with a pledge to reform and modernize the workings of Egypt's economy and appealed to international allies to invest in his country's future prosperity.
Sissi noted that Egypt has a workforce of 30 million young people. He said his government was aiming to create 6 percent economic growth over the next five years and to cut unemployment to 10 percent.
He said Egypt has been faithful in repaying its international obligations and seeks to build confidence and trust. The government, he insisted, has revamped laws to streamline the investment process and eliminate potential dangers for companies doing business in Egypt.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged American support for Egypt's bid to rebuild its economy, saying the country's future political success depends on strong economic growth.
"Egypt needs to grow inclusively, and President Sissi is committed to that," Kerry said. "An essential demand of the revolution of 2011 was a more equal distribution of wealth, and that requires a commitment to empowering young people to fulfill their dreams, to meet their aspirations — and women, also — in order to promote a free and active and independent civil society."
Kerry also blasted the Islamic State group and other Islamic militants for their efforts to destroy modern society and vowed to stop them from plunging the Middle East into the chaos of the past.
"The road ahead is absolutely clear, and so is the United States' determination to support Egypt's progress in any way that we can ... and that includes in the effort to stand up and fight against extremists and terrorists," he said. "Here at this conference, we stand in direct contradiction to the nihilism that they present. They want to destroy and go back in time. We want to build and go to the future, and that's what this conference is about."
Saudi Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz pledged $4 billion in aid and investment to support the Egyptian economy. Kuwait's emir, Sabah Ahmad al-Sabah, and the leader of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Makhtoum, pledged similar amounts.