Egypt's stripped-down opening ceremony for unveiling of Sisi's big-budget military base

Egypt's stripped-down opening ceremony for unveiling of Sisi's big-budget military base
Egypt has unveiled a huge military base in a ceremony which featured topless soldiers lifting weights and performing press-ups on army trucks.
2 min read
23 Jul, 2017
Sisi was a former military general and defence minister [AFP]
A huge military base was opened in Egypt on Saturday, amid continued financial pressures for the country as Cairo cuts government spending in other areas.

The Mohammed Naguib Military Base is located close to the port city of Alexandria and the opening ceremony was attended by leading figures in the Arab world.

It includes more than 1,100 buildings, 72 training fields, two residential complexes and a huge convention centre making it in the largest military base in the Middle East and Africa.

The ceremony was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayyed and Libya warlord Khalifa Haftar.

It featured bare-chested soldiers lifting weights on a moving float. Other troops showed off their prowess with synchronised sit-up performances on moving trucks to a visibly proud Sisi.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi - a former general - said the military complex was vital to defeating "terrorism" and will protect a vast area of Egypt that has been shook by militancy.

"Egypt will remain a peace-loving nation and will never kowtow to terrorist threats and those behind them," Sisi told the crowd, making repeated thinly disguised swipes at Qatar who Cairo accuses of sponsoring militants. 

"Terrorism, however, will be a catalyst for exerting more efforts at all levels."

The base is named after Egypt's first President Mohammed Naguib ousted after a brief period as head by Gamal Abdel Nasser.

It comes as Cairo continues to struggle to keep the finances stable with the economy nosediving after Sisi's 2013 overthrow of Egypt's first democratically elected government headed by Mohamad Morsi.

Egypt is looking at a IMF bailout to fund projects in the country but it has been the country's poorest who have paid the heaviest cost for austerity measures rolled out by Cairo to help curb government spending.

Prices have rocketed on basic commodities - from bread, to petrol, to metro tickets - as Egypt looks at cutting subsidies which have provided a safety net for the country's poorest.

Egypt's devalued currency has also made imported items such as cars considerably more expensive.

Although the budget for the armed forces is a closely kept secret, military spending for the developing country is likely to be huge.

Egypt's intervention in neighbouring Libya, the purchase of fighter jets, and the ongoing battle against a bloody insurgency in the Sinai will likely keep costs high.