Egyptian ambassador to visit Pittsburgh

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Aquatech was doing business in Egypt before an uprising swept the country two years ago. Even as tourists left, Aquatech stayed.

"It's very interesting, because business-wise, in one sense you can say throughout the whole happenings of the two years, business hasn't missed a step," said Devesh Sharma, managing director of the Canonsburg-based company that provides water purification systems technology.

If anything, he added, Aquatech has seen opportunities increase, especially as the Egyptian government begins enforcing environmental regulations that his company can help industries meet.

But will that strong business environment last?

That's one of the questions that may be asked Friday, when Mohamed M. Tawfik, the Egyptian ambassador to the United States, visits Pittsburgh. Mr. Tawfik will speak at an event hosted by the American Middle East Institute at the Duquesne Club, Downtown, and co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

"We see our job as a means to keep things as stable as possible by promoting these business ties, because we really believe in the power of commercial diplomacy," said Simin Curtis, president of the Pittsburgh-headquartered institute. "There is a great deal of opportunity, notwithstanding the occasional unrest you read about in the papers."

Although Egypt, long considered a stable American ally, has experienced turmoil during the past two years, "Our philosophy is that business marches on," Ms. Curtis said.

That's been the philosophy of the institute since it was founded here in 2008, when it was called the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute. Although the nonprofit organization has replaced "Pittsburgh" with "American," the organization remains headquartered here, where Ms. Curtis said the presence of industries including manufacturing, technology, health care and energy make it "a perfect place" to welcome delegations from the Middle East.

And that remains an ongoing goal of the institute: to build relationships between people from Pittsburgh and the Middle East by bringing representatives from there to here.

"It builds stability," she said. "That's really our focus."

Aquatech, which has been sending employees to projects in Egypt for five or six years, was awarded a major project in September to help the chemicals industry meet new environmental regulations and recycle its water.

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.


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