SHARM EL-SHEIKH – President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Monday that Egypt works to diversify its foreign relations in a way that brings more balance to these relations.
“We believe in the right of each country in the region to protect its people, resources and peculiarities,” the president said.
He added at a discussion with a group of influential youths as part of the World Youth Forum which started in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday that Egypt works to push reconciliation between Palestinians parties forward.
Egypt wants, he said, to increase confidence between these parties so that the Palestinians can unite to be up to the challenges facing them, including the need to move ahead on the road to peace.
He said Egypt opposed attempts to influence international public opinion as far as the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is concerned.
“We are against doing this before ongoing investigations on the issue come to an end,” the president said.
He added that he preferred economic integration between his country and other countries within the African continent to happen in a gradual way.
President Sisi added that economic integration within Africa can start by settling disputes between African countries.
“It can also be achieved by raising the economic growth rate of African countries so that these countries can allow their citizens to lead a dignified life,” he added.
He described civil society organizations as an important pillar of charity activities in Egypt. He said these organizations play an important role in serving the members of society.
Sisi said the presence of a strong will on the part of Egyptian citizens and the armed forces helped Egypt get over the difficulties it faced in the past few years.
Sisi, meanwhile, highlighted the need for the presence of a national panel to draw up national strategies for dealing with social media.
The president noted that social media has its harmful effects as it has its useful ones.
“The question we need to ask ourselves now is how we can turn this social media into a tool for construction, learning and correct communication,” Sisi said.
He underscored the huge effect social media has on Egyptians. Sisi added that Egyptians must get ready for the way social media will evolve in the coming years.
“Some people talk about social media being used by international intelligence agencies and terrorist organizations,” Sisi said. “This is normal so long as social media can influence the outcome of conflicts everywhere.”
The third day of the World Youth Forum contained a host of activities, including a seminar on the effects of social media. A documentary by some forum participants on social media was played during the seminar.
Patrik Wincent, the director of the Swedish organization, Internet Durgstore, said social media makes users lose their feeling of time. Modern cell phones, he added, have harmful effects on the brains of those using them.
Christine Adero, the head of the Girl Child Network in Uganda, said she had decided to teach a course on child protection when she noticed a rise in interest by journalists and human rights advocates in children and teenagers on social media.
The course, she said, had a special focus on children and teenagers.
“These members of society spend most of their time in the virtual world through the cell phones they have in their hands,” Adero said.
She called for benefiting from the information the internet can make available and staying away from the negative sides of cyberspace.
Arwa Abu Awn, a female Libyan photographer who lives in Canada, said she fell victim to internet bullying by a man, 12 years ago.
“I had never expected to be the victim of bullying on the internet,” Abu Awn said. “It was a very painful experience.”
Jack Harris, a documentary film director from the UK, said he tries to use his films in inducing viewers away from social media.
I want people, he added, to deal with each other directly or face to face, not through social media.
Khawla al-Hawi, a social media specialist from the United Arab Emirates, referred to the sweeping use of social media everywhere in the world.
“Social media forms public opinion everywhere in the world, especially among youths,” al-Hawi said.
She added that social media gives the chance for consumers and producers to get in touch with each other. It gives consumers, she added, the chance to express their views, which opens the door for the presence of a pool of new ideas.
Bailey Parnell, the chief executive officer of the Canadian organization Skills Camp, said social media has deep effects on users’ mental health.
Social networking sites, she said, have positive sides.
“Nonetheless, they have their negative sides too,” Parnell added.
Security expert Khaled Okasha, who attended the same seminar, referred to the use of social networking sites by terrorist organizations.
Terrorist organizations, he said, succeeded in widening the scope of their presence by using social media.
“This is a very dangerous development,” Okasha said. “The internet has given free space for these organizations.”
Falviana Matata, a Tanzanian beauty queen and fashion model, mentioned some of the positive aspects of social media.
She said social sites help her move ahead with her fashion business.
On the other hand, Pakistani State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir said President Sisi saved Egypt from the claws of terrorism and extremism.
“The president did this despite all the pressures and challenges he had been through,” she added in an interview with the Egyptian state-run Middle East News Agency.
Wazir added on the sidelines of the World Youth Forum that she would relate her experience in Egypt when she goes back to her country.
“I will tell Pakistanis of the very generous treatment I received in Egypt as I attended this forum,” the Pakistani minister said.
She referred to the importance of al-Azhar for students in her country. Wazir added that Pakistani students who receive academic degrees from al-Azhar University are viewed very highly in Pakistan.
Senegalese Minister of Youth Pape Gorgui Ndong, for his part, said the World Youth Forum is a reflection of the attention President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pays to youths in his country.
He added during a session on the making of future leaders that the forum has succeeded in bringing together a large number of youths from around the world.
“All these people are meeting here in an atmosphere full of love and concord,” the Senegalese minister said.
Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek al-Mulla, said, meanwhile, that the African continent does not get its rightful share as far as energy is concerned.
He called during a session on changes happening on the international energy scene on advanced countries to help Africa in this regard.
“Energy continues to be very expensive in Africa,” al-Mulla said. “The African continent is also deprived of electrical power.”