Dabaa welcomes Egypt-Russia nuclear plant deal despite land disputes

Dabaa welcomes Egypt-Russia nuclear plant deal despite land disputes
Residents of the coastal town have welcomed the signing of a Russian deal to finance and build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant nearby, despite years of land disputes.
3 min read
20 November, 2015
Egypt and Russia signed the Dabaa nuclear plant deal on Thursday [Sisi official Facebook page]

Residents of Dabaa, on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, have welcomed the signing of a Russian deal on Thursday to finance and build Egypt's first nuclear power plant in their town, according to local media.

Sheikh Marei Mostafa Zamout, the head of Dabaa's municipal coordination committee, told reporters locals were pleased with the nuclear plant deal, and that they would stand by the Egyptian government as it executes the project, which he described as "a major achievement".

The Dabaa nuclear plant is expected to be the largest
Russian-Egyptian project since the Aswan dam
[Mohamed Magdy CC BY-SA]

The Egyptian government had laid the foundations of the facility during the reign of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

However, work had been halted due to political turmoil, as well as disputes with neighbours, who accused the state of confiscating their land without proper compensation.

In January 2012, locals stormed the construction site of a residential area near the proposed nuclear site, destroying existing infrastructure and refusing to surrender to military police.

Low-level radioactive materials were also looted from the location, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In September 2013, land-owning families from Dabaa and Marsa Matrouh relinquished the nuclear construction site to the Egyptian armed forces after months of occupying the controversial area.

They handed over the site during a celebratory event following reconciliation efforts with military intelligence and the Egyptian government.

The authorities then signed an agreement with the locals stipulating the provision of compensation for residents and guaranteeing them jobs at the plant.

According to the local committee spokesperson, Mastour Abu Shkara, most of the locals have finally been compensated for the land they handed over to the Egyptian military.

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A new chapter in history

"The Dabaa nuclear plant will be the largest Russian-Egyptian project since the Aswan dam," Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's state-owned nuclear firm Rosatomalong, told reporters after the signing of the deal on Thursday.

"It will mark a truly new chapter in the history of our bilateral relations," he added.

"The plant will make Egypt the regional leader in the field of nuclear technologies and the only country in the region that will have a generation 3+ plant."

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi highlighted that the signing of such deal after a Russian airliner was downed by a bomb - according to the Kremlin - in late October, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board, revealed the strong ties between Cairo and Moscow.

Sisi announced the project in February during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, when a memorandum of understanding was signed.