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Except for El Gouna, all projects came by coincidence – Samih Sawiris in RiseUp

Except for El Gouna, all projects came by coincidence – Samih Sawiris in RiseUp
Sawiris set the mastering plan for Andermatt

By: Ingy ElSafy

Cairo -Mubasher: On the final day of the RiseUp Summit 2019, the Egyptian tycoon Samih Sawiris was hosted to talk to the attendees about different topics and events, whether by speaking out on personal or business matters.

The project of ‘El Gouna Startup Hub’ was mentioned, especially that the three-day event was focusing on entrepreneurs and startups.

Samih Sawiris clarified that El Gouna Startup Hub was established to be at the location of the AUC Center, and “The turnout was huge that we are still trying to make it bigger in order to accommodate more and more people.”

He asserted that technical startups, like in the field of engineering, have everything included in the hub; labs and other facilities.

                                                          (TU Berlin's satellite campus in El Gouna Egypt)

The mogul Samih Sawiris said, “I convinced university in Berlin [Technische Universität Berlin], which I graduated from, to have a branch in El Gouna; they started with Masters and PHDs and they will include Bachelors eventually. Berlin is the largest center for startups by far.”

Earlier in 2019, the TU Berlin's satellite campus in El Gouna Egypt welcomed 27 new students in the context of a special ceremony to celebrate the start of the institution's second academic year.

Sandra Farid, founding partner of Acumen Consulting, has interviewed Samih Sawiris at the event, saying: People frankly said that “You came and saved the place [Andermatt]” after it was collapsing. Tell us more about it?

Sawiris replied, with a smile, “except for El Gouna, I haven’t built a project based on a study, all came by coincidence.”

As for Jordan, the project was executed there because when King Abdullah used to visit El Gouna when he was still engaged to his wife who was studying at the AUC back then, he saw El Gouna several times, and once he was inaugurated as a King, he told me “Come and build El Gouna for us in Jordan”, otherwise, I was never going to think about building there.

As for Oman, the official of the National Bank of Oman back then loved to visit the Red Sea, so he opened a branch in El Gouna and invited Omani ministers to fly to Egypt and open it; once they saw the place, they told me “Come and build El Gouna for us in Oman.”

As for Switzerland’s Andermatt, when the Swiss Ambassador to Egypt had resigned from his position at the foreign affairs ministry and went to the defence ministry, he convinced the minister that I can execute this project by informing him of El Gouna project and how [Samih Sawiris] built it in the middle of the dessert. Eventually, the Swiss official said: “what about asking him what to do with Andermatt.”

Samih Sawiris further told the interviewer: “When he called, I found it a funny thing that Switzerland is asking for a consultant from Africa. I was very proud, and I was going as if I was a consultant to the Swiss government in terms of what they were going to do.”

So, Sawiris set the mastering plan and directed them to do so and so, they were wondering how could a project like this would be done.

“In three months, they told me that they couldn’t reach any solutions, and asked me to build it. [I told them] You have the list of conditions, orders, and the incentives that you have to give the investor; give it to me and I will do it all.” 

In some people’s eyes, Samih Sawiris had transformed the military base of 1914 in Switzerland to El Gouna, but instead of sand, it is in snow (Ski Resort).