01:36 - Source: CNN
Egypt's red carpet controversy
CNN  — 

A red carpet reception isn’t exactly what you’d expect at the opening of a housing complex for the poor.

On Saturday, a 2.5 mile-long red carpet was rolled out for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s motorcade as it made its way to a speaking engagement in a Cairo suburb.

Egypt’s leader was attending the inauguration of a social housing project, where he also talked about austerity.

Military spokesman Brig. Ehab El Qahwagy defended the use of the red carpet on several television programs, including one on the privately owned station Orbit, calling it a “light fabric” that “has been in use for three years.”

“It’s been used in all state celebrations. It gives a good impression to the world. It is then removed and used in other celebrations. It’s not costly,” Qahwagy added.

Sisi came into power in the tumultuous aftermath of Egypt’s Arab Spring in 2011 after the fall of the country’s longtime president, Hosni Mubarak.

After toppling Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsy, in 2013 in what some called a coup, Sisi went from a top military officer to becoming the country’s next president.

More than 25% of Egypt’s population live under the poverty rate, according to a report released by the United Nations Development Program in 2014.