Who Are Egypt’s New Ministers?

In a surprise move, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab announced a minor cabinet reshuffle that included eight ministries ahead of Egypt’s March economic conference. The reshuffle included the ministries of culture, tourism, agriculture, communications, education, and interior. Of the eight new ministers, two are taking up entirely new portfolios – the ministry of population and the ministry of technical education. The most significant changes were made to the ministry of interior, with Mohamed Ibrahim replaced by Magdi Abdel Ghaffar. Ibrahim has since been appointed security advisor to the Prime Minister. One woman was sworn in among the new ministers, bringing the total number of women in Egypt’s cabinet to five out of over thirty ministers.

The cabinet’s last reshuffle was seen in June 2014 when thirteen ministers were replaced. Of these thirteen, only the ministers of culture and agriculture were replaced in Thursday’s reshuffle.

Minister of Interior Magdi Abdel Ghaffar:

Major-General Magdi Abdel Ghaffar is a retired general and was director of the Interior Ministry’s National Security Apparatus from July 2011 to October 2012. He retired after turning 60. During his career as National Security Apparatus chief, he headed the ministry’s department for religious extremism.  

Abdel Ghaffar was born on August 14,1952 in Tala city in the Menoufiya governorate. He graduated from Police Academy in 1974. After his graduation, he worked for three years as a first lieutenant in the Central Security Forces. He went on to work for the now-defunct State Security Agency until 2009, when he was transferred to the Port Authority. After the January 25 revolution and the establishment of the National Security Apparatus (NSA), he first served as deputy chief, and after four months, he became the apparatus chief until October 2012 when he reached the legal age of retirement.

In 2011, Ghaffar said that while Mubarak’s State Security Agency played a key role in fighting terrorism, it did encroach on personal freedoms and engaged in illegal practices. He also admitted the agency violated basic human rights.  “We confess that there were some incorrect practices under the old regime. We confess there were violations,” he said. “But we have to understand that security forces were working under certain circumstances created under a certain atmosphere.” He even went as far as saying that the now National Security Apparatus is one of the January 25 revolution gains.

In another rare interview published in February 2012, Ghaffar said the NSA was combating the “third column,” in reference to an ‘unknown force’ the Egyptian government often blamed for violence prior to former President Mohamed Morsi’s election.

He also criticized the American University in Cairo (AUC), claiming that it has played a suspicious role in cabinet clashes and Mohamed Mahmoud Street in 2011.  The university has denied the allegations.

Abdel Ghaffar replaces Mohamed Ibrahim, who was originally appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in January 2013. Ibrahim, a controversial figure amid what is perceived to be a heavy security crackdown on state opponents, was one of the few ministers to keep his post after Morsi’s ouster.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Khaled Ali Negm:
Engineer Khalid Negm was the director of National Post Authority. He was appointed minister while he was in the UAE signing a new agreement that facilitates remittances from Egyptians expatriates to the National Post Authority.

Negm, the son of a former CBE governor, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Ain Shams University, a Master’s in theoretical nuclear physics from the University of Alberta, Canada, and then a doctorate in theoretical elementary particle physics from Ain Shams University.

Negm joined IBM in 1984 to work in the engineering and technological support department where he spent more than thirty years. He worked in technical services from 1990 to 1999, after which he worked on developing and designing networks and information centers until September 2006.

In October 2006, he served as Director of Technical Support for Integrated Services, and also worked in the technological sector for smart cities in the Middle East and Africa. In 2009, he served as Regional Director of IBM in the Middle East and Africa.

He is a member in the Chamber of Communication and Information Technology, as well as in the American Chamber of commerce.

Negm replaces Engineer Atef Helmy. Experts in the ministry said that the fourth mobile operator license, the establishment of a unified infrastructure entity for communications, and conflicts between mobile operators and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority are the most significant challenges facing Negm.

Agriculture and Land Cultivation Minister Salah al-Din Helal:
Dr. Salah al-Din Helal was born on April 5, 1956 in Kafr al-Amar village in Qalubiya. He graduated from Faculty of agriculture at Al-Azhar University in 1978. He later obtained his PhD from the same university while working as technology-modified seed professor in the crops center at the Agricultural Research Center (ARC).  At ARC, he was appointed research specialist in 1982 and was later promoted to head of the ministry’s research and agricultural experiment central department in 2011. Helal also attended some training workshops in Germany in 1991 and in the United States in 1993.

 In July 2013, Helal served as head of the office of former agriculture minister Ayman Farid Abo Hadid until the end of his term in office. Helal replaces Dr. Adel Tawfik al-Sayed al-Beltagy.

Culture Minister Abdel Wahid al-Nabawy:
Dr. Abdel Wahid al-Nabawy worked as a history professor at Al Azhar University and was, at that time, the Arab Branch Secretary of the International Council on Archives. He also worked for ten years on a project to electronically preserve and document historical manuscripts under the supervision of Dr. Saber Arab. He has also worked as a contemporary history professor in Qatar from 2008 to 2010. He then served as the Director of the Central Department for National Archives in 2010 and was promoted to serve as the head of the Egyptian National Library and Archives.

Alaa Abdel Aziz, former culture minister under Morsi, dismissed him from his post at the Egyptian National Library and Archives, but he was reinstated after Morsi’s ouster.

In a phone call to CBC satellite channel, al-Nabawy said the ministry will play a role in raising awareness, and supporting films that highlight patriotism and nationalism.

He replaces Dr. Gaber Ahmed al-Sayed Assfour.

Education Minister Moheb al-Rafei:
Moheb Mahmoud Kamel al-Rafei obtained his Bacherlor’s degree in Education from Zaqaziq University in 1981. He also got a special diploma in education from Ain Shams University in 1983. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and his PhD in Environmental Philosophy. He worked at the National Center for Education and Development Research, and is the head of the Executive Board of the General Authority for Literacy and Adult Education (GALAE). Al-Rafei has published works on education and pedagogy, with more than twenty-seven research paper and studies related to education and environment under his belt.

Al-Rafei is a member in the Egyptian Council for Curriculum and Instruction that aims to improve the Egyptian educational curriculum. He is also a member of several national and international organizations and participated in preparing programs and conducting studies for a number of international organizations such as the UNESCO and the EU.

After he was sworn in, he announced a plan to implement inspections and regular maintenance in schools. He added that political affiliation are not permitted on school premises.

He replaces Dr. Mahmoud Mohamed Mahmoud Abo al-Nasr.

Tourism Minister Khaled Abbas Ramy:
Khaled Abbas Ramy was born in Cairo in 1958. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering in 1981. He also received a diploma in architecture from the same university in 1990, and completed the tourism ministry’s tour guide test, which is equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree.

After graduation, he worked in architectural design in an engineering firm. From 1990 to 1998, Ramy, who speaks German and English, worked as a tour guide for a number of Egyptian and foreign tourist agencies.

From 1994 to 1999, he served as the tourism office director and supervisor for Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary in Egypt’s embassy in Vienna. From 2002 to 2004, he served as the technical office director for two former Tourism Ministers Dr. Mamdouh al-Beltagy and Hisham Zaazou. From 2004 to 2012, he served as the head of Egypt’s Tourism Authority office in London, and since 2012 has been the head of e-marketing to the new head of the Tourism Authority. This is the first time a minister of tourism has been chosen from Egypt’s Tourism Authority.

After he was sown in, Ramy said that the ministry is committed to all agreements that have been ratified by his predecessor and those concluded with national and international tourist agencies.

He replaces Hisham Zaazou.

Population Minister Hala Mohamed Youssef:
Hala Youssef has worked as a public health professor in Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University since 2007. She graduated in 1985 and obtained her PhD in public health in 1994. She also has a diploma in total quality management from the American University in Cairo in 2003.

Youssef was Rapporteur for the National Council for Population. She was also a member of the Community Development Council, affiliated with the presidency. She also served as a reproduction, health, and family planning counselor in a number of international organizations including Ford, UNICEF, and UNESCO. An active member in the African Reproductive Health Research Network (ReproNet Africa), Youssef was the network’s vice chairman from 2005 to 2011.

Youssef was also a member in Egypt’s delegation to the UN Population and Development Committee in 2014. The population ministry is one of two portfolios newly introduced in the cabinet reshuffle. 

Technical Education and Training Minister Mohamed Ahmed Youssef:
Mohamed Ahmed Youssef was born on March 8, 1967 in the Menoufiya governorate. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Cairo University in 1990 and a post-graduate diploma in 1994. He received both his Master’s in Project Management in 1998 and then his PhD degree in 2006 from the UK. Youssef later worked as head of roads and bridges department at the Arab Contractors. He was promoted to serve in the training sector that supervises schools affiliated with the company.

He was a member in the ministerial delegation accompanying Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi to South Sudan.

The Technical Education and Training Ministry is one of two portfolios newly introduced in the cabinet reshuffle.

Ali Mohamed is an intern at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East