CAIRO: An Al-Azhar University researcher, Dr. Mostafa Abouk Bakr, will be sent to Boston University as a prelude to a major research project, between the two universities to develop North Sinai, Youm7 reported Tuesday.
The project aims to set a strategy to exploit seasonal rainwater and renewable groundwater in North Sinai, so as to launch agricultural development in Ser and Qawarir zone west of Arish. The research is planned to include the potential of applying the development in other parts of Egypt.
The research, funded by Egypt’s Ministry of Scientific Research, is coordinated by Dr. Farouk el-Baz between the Department of Geology at Al-Azhar University’s Faculty of Sciences and Boston University’s Center for Remote Sensing and Research.
El-Baz is the director of the center and is the scientific advisor of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
North Sinai: Negligence and insurgency
The restive North Sinai has been torn by an insurgency and reactionary security measures that have burdened the Bedouin residents of the desertous governorate since the 2014 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
On April 12, a twin militant attack killed 14 officers and conscripts in Arish, one of them included a suicide attack with a car bomb crashing into the Arish Third Police Station.
A nightly curfew has been imposed on the area since October 2014, and a one-kilometer-wide strip along the borders with Gaza has been evacuated to leave room for a buffer zone.
However, even before the insurgency unfolds in North Sinai, the Egyptian government did not pay as much attention to the northern half of Sinai Peninsula as to the southern half.
The northern half borders Gaza Strip and has been the site of hundreds of smuggling tunnels. The southern half, on the other hand, includes several luxurious Red Sea resorts.
Although it is three times the size of the Nile Delta, around 500,000 Egyptians, representing 1 percent of Egypt’s population, live in the Sinai Peninsula. According to the report issued by the Social Fund for Development in 2013, 45 percent of the Peninsula’s inhabitants are under the poverty line.
The Ministry of Solidarity said in February it paid 17.5 million EGP to North Sinai in 11 months.
In January, Sisi announced in January the government would allocate 10 billion EGP ($1.7 b) to launch industrial development projects and an anti-terrorist campaign in the Sinai Peninsula.