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'Pharaoh' Mubarak known for tight grip on his 30-year term as president

Maintaining his iron grip on Egypt for nearly 30 years has earned President Hosni Mubarak (above) the rather flattering title of 'The Pharaoh'.

While his personal wealth -- estimated in some quarters to top €23.3bn -- may draw comparisons to the country's ancient rulers, his popularity with the Egyptian people is by no means commensurate.

During his unopposed time in office, he has managed to maintain a degree of stability, while enjoying good relations with the West and Israel.

But it has often come at a cost, with many of his opponents complaining of poverty, corruption and state brutality.

The 82-year-old former Air Force officer is no stranger to the perils of high office, having survived six assassination attempts.

Born in 1928 in the village of Kahel-el-Meselha, Mr Mubarak graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1949.

After the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, he was promoted to Air Chief Marshal, opening the door to political power.

A loyal servant of President Anwar El-Sadat, he was appointed vice president in 1975. He was given the top job in October 1981 when Mr Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists.

In a prolonged period of emergency rule, affording the state draconian powers of arrest, Mr Mubarak cemented his position by opposing Islamic extremism and maintaining good relations with America. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent