Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has offered to buy an island off the coast of Greece or Italy to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Syria and other conflicts and build them a new country.
Naguib Sawiris is a media and telecommunications tycoon. He heads Orascom TMT, which operates mobile phone networks in a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa as well as Korea. He owns submarine communications networks and an Egyptian television channel. In short, he has the means.
His goal posted in a few words on Twitter? To buy an island from Greece or Italy to shelter migrants, build them a country, offer them work, guarantee their independence.
Questioned by AFP, the big-hearted billionaire says that this dream is perfectly feasible: "It's a dream come true," he says. There are dozens of islands that are deserted and could accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees.... ». It states: " An island off the coast of Greece or Italy could cost between $10 million and $100 million. It is perfectly feasible ".
In his plan, the major point is investment. For his island is not intended to be a temporary home. « Investment in infrastructure will be required "he predicts. « In the beginning, temporary shelters will be built and then people will be put to work building housing, schools, universities, hospitals, etc. ".
Admittedly, Naguib Sawiris concedes that this plan is a difficult challenge, that he will have to convince Greece or Italy to sell him an island, that he will also have to resolve countless administrative difficulties in order to determine the legal existence of this new state which the refugees should thus govern and make economically independent.
But, for him, it's worth it because he says " those who will be housed on the island will be treated like human beings, whereas today they are treated like cattle... ".
So, is it a billionaire's delusion or a real solution to the human disaster represented by the thousands of migrants washed up on our beaches? This initiative may seem crazy but it fits quite well in the vein of the utopias of billionaire builders who, throughout history, have wanted to build cities designed to bring together human communities around a project. There are many examples all over the world: Le Creusot city founded by the Schneider family, Fordlândia, the American model workers' city built by the industrialist Henry Ford, Port Sunlight in England, the model city of William Lever, the laundry magnate, and more recently, the urban planning utopias of the giants of the web that we have already recounted in an Large Format.