Egyptian Billionaire Contacts Owners To Buy an Island for Refugees

Naguib Sawiris is willing to spend up to $200 million after first proposing the idea on Twitter

An Egyptian billionaire has contacted the owners of two islands to buy a Greek island to provide housing and jobs for the refugees and migrants that are fleeing crises in the Middle East.

After floating the “crazy idea” on Twitter earlier this month, the office of Naguib Sawiris said the 61-year-old has contacted the owners of two private islands and is now hoping to get the Greek government involved. Earlier this week, he told Newsweek that he had he yet to receive a formal response to his idea from Greece or Italy, the two nations whose islands he first proposed buying.

“We are seeking the [Greek] government’s consent to be willing to take care of the administrative process of permitting entrance of refugees to the island, which will fall under Greek jurisdiction,” reads a memo he shared on Twitter on Monday. The memo refers to the project as Aylan Island, named for the 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body was discovered on a Turkish beach after a boat carrying his family capsized en route to a Greek island.

(Read next: What the Image of Aylan Kurdi Says About the Power of Photography)

Sawiris said he would spend up to $200 million on the project and that he had received 10,000 emails from potential donors and volunteers.

He also had harsh words for his critics.

“I would tell them that’s what I came up with, if you have a better idea, you are welcome,” he said. “The rule in my corporate world, anybody who criticized my solution and does not have any better solution, I would tell them to shut the f—k up.”

[The Independent]