Home » Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris first foreigner to receive honorary citizenship in Swiss canton of Uri

Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris first foreigner to receive honorary citizenship in Swiss canton of Uri

by Ishioma Emi

Egyptian-Montenegrin billionaire businessman Samih Sawiris has recently received a certificate of honorary citizenship from the canton of Uri for his immense contribution to tourism in the resort town of Andermatt. He is the first foreigner to receive the honor, which is not the same as naturalization, Swissinfo.ch reported.

Uri is one of 26 Swiss cantons and a founding member of the Swiss Confederation. It is located in central Switzerland.

According to Swissinfo.ch, the billionaire member of the Sawiris family was awarded honorary citizenship last year. However, officials postponed the awarding ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the ceremony finally took place on June 4 at the Tellspielhaus (William Tell Theater) in Uri’s capital, Altdorf.

Sawiris is the youngest son of Egyptian construction magnate Onsi Sawiris. He heads Orascom Development, which builds and operates resorts in Egypt, Montenegro and Switzerland.

Samih Sawiris & Uri

Andermatt is a mountain village in the Swiss Alps and a former garrison town of the Swiss army.

For decades, the Swiss military used the town barracks for training purposes and was a source of wealth for the village. However, when the army stopped using the town in 2005, the locals were left with a minimal agricultural economy until the government invited the billionaire to invest in the cash-strapped village. 

Sawiris came on to the scene with an enormous vision to construct Switzerland’s most significant tourist resort. Construction began in 2009. 

Sawiris built luxury hotels, holiday apartments, a golf course, an indoor swimming pool and a concert hall. Notable among his hotels is Chedi Hotel, often rated as one of the best hotels in Switzerland.

Swissinfo.ch estimated his investments in the project at around CHF1.1 billion ($1.2 billion).

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