Wealthy Egyptian Man Does Something Never Before Seen for Syrian Refugees



Naguib Sawiris, chief executive officer of Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, speaks during the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007. Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, the biggest mobile-phone company in the Middle East, formed a joint venture with Korek Telecom to offer wireless services in Iraq after dropping out of the bidding for a license. Photographer: Xabier Mikel Laburu/Bloomberg News

Lucas Ryan, Staff Writer

In Egypt there lives a man with a heart of gold, and his name is Naguib Sawiris.

This billionaire tweeted “Greece or Italy, sell me an island”  so that he may make a place for Syrian refugees to come and go as they please to a place of safety. He already suggests naming this island Hope. With money being no object, Sawiris says that, “All I need is the permission to put these people on this island. After that I don’t need anything anymore from them. I’ll pay them for the island, I’ll provide the jobs, I’ll take care of all the logistics. I know I can do that.”

This man is also one of Egypt’s most successful business men, coming from a family of entrepreneurs. Naguib Sawiris is the eldest of three brothers, Nassef and Samih Siwaris, all of whom are sons to Onsi Siwaris who founded the Orascom Group, a large telephone corporation which is what started his rise to riches as a business man.

Sawiris estimates that the kind of island he has in mind would cost between ten and one hundred million dollars, and it could hold one to two hundred thousand people.

To start, the island would only have temporary, makeshift shelters, but the people there will be employed to build long term housing, schools, hospitals, etc. Sawiris admits that this could be a complex and drawn out process with complications such as jurisdiction and customs regulations, but if it would help people then Sawiris is willing to work through the complications.

Two thousand three hundred people have died on their way to Europe, and a large number of them were Syrians trying to escape the nearly five year long conflict in their homeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees contacted the European Union to make room for almost  200,000 refugees so they may have a safe place to stay. This movement is being referred to as a mass relocation program. Antonio Guterres says, “People who are found to have a valid protection claim… must then benefit from the program, with the mandatory participation of all EU member states,”.

However, with Sawiris’s island in place, there is no need for other European countries to try to make more room for refugees because they already have found safety in the island Hope.