Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris says he is willing to buy an island in Europe for refugees escaping from political turmoil and civil wars in the Middle East and Africa.
The renowned businessman claims “there is no limit” to how much he is willing to pay to find a new home for these people. He told CNN during an interview last Friday:
“It’s a very simple solution. They sell the island to me and I’ll make a temporary shelter for these people. I’ll make a small port or marina for the boats to land there. I’ll employ the people to build their own homes, their schools, a hospital, a university, a hotel.”
Countries on the outskirts of the European Union such as Greece and Italy have been experiencing an influx of refugees fleeing their war-stricken homes. According to Sawiris, there are a handful of empty islands off the coast of Italy and Greece that can support a population of 100,000 to 200,000 people. He tweeted:
Sawiris is the chief executive of telecom group Orascom TMT and the founder of a political party. The renowned Egyptian businessman also comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His brother Nassef is the chairman of Orascom Construction Industries, one of Egypt’s most revered publicly traded companies.
Sawiris has ignored ridicule of his idea and even suggested that the new island country be named “Hope.” He says people could come and go as they please on the island:
“All I need is the permission to put these people on this island. After that I don’t need anything anymore from them. I’ll pay them for the island, I’ll provide the jobs, I’ll take care of all the logistics. I know I can do that.”
Disappointed by many governments’ unwillingness to act, Sawiris said:
“I sometimes think the politicians don’t have a heart.”
While European leaders are struggling to find ways to accommodate and assist the incoming waves of migrants and refugees, Sawiris is offering a solution he is confident will work.