Sisi's $300 million propaganda campaign

Sisi's $300 million propaganda campaign
Analysis: Egyptian tycoons have funded a media campaign in conjunction with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's visit to New York to attend the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
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Sisi has recently attended the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly [Anadolu/Getty]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's recent visit to New York to attend the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly was marked by a significant propaganda campaign in the city's main squares, along with a warm welcome from members of the Egyptian community in the US.

The campaign, funded by Egyptian business owners who seek stronger ties with the regime, included 72 hours of Times Square adverts promoting the new Suez Canal expansion project and Sisi's plans to combat religious extremism and terrorism, as well as a Wall Street Journal page on the Egyptian government's efforts to attract foreign investment.

According to informed sources, the Times Square adverts alone cost roughly $300 million, while the cost of the WSJ advert remains unclear.

The main financier of this campaign is Egyptian steel tycoon Ahmed Abu Hashima, also the owner of the pro-regime Youm 7 newspaper, which is set to cooperate with Sisi's information office to hold future workshops and conferences on combating "fourth generation" media wars, as described by Sisi.

Abu Hashima came under the spotlight before the January revolution in 2011, even though he was considered a newcomer to the press business. During the rule of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, whom he accompanied on several official visits abroad, he attempted to strengthen his ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Even though the steel tycoon was said to be involved in corrupt deals, along with Youm 7 editor-in-chief Khaled Salah, the prosecution never charged them with anything, nor did it impose a travel ban on them.

However, Abu Hashima is not the only infamous tycoon on whom Sisi relies for publicity.

During his visit to Germany in June, Sisi relied on ceramics industry leader Mohamed Abul Enein, once accused of state land acquisition, and forced to return large sums of money following involvement in corruption cases during Mubarak's rule.