A row has erupted after Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi gave a speech about austerity after having a huge red carpet laid out for him over public roads.
The top official's motorcade drove over the 2.5 mile carpet during a trip to social housing projects in Cairo.
The incident sparked a furious backlash on social media, with images of el-Sisi's grand arrival being widely shared by Twitter users.
And the Al-Maqal newspaper suggested he was a hypocrite for asking ordinary people to "tighten [their] belts" when the red carpet "says otherwise".
During Saturday's speech el-Sisi claimed the state spends a staggering £3.5 million every day on clean water.
Only part of the cost passed on to consumers, he added.
He said: "One [cubic] metre of water that reaches you costs me this much, and you are taking it by that much, and the state is unable to continue this way."
A military spokesman defended the use of the carpet, saying it had not been bought by el-Sisi's administration.
He said: "It gives a kind of joy and assurance to the Egyptian citizen that our people and our land and our armed forces are always capable of organising anything in a proper manner.
"It is laid out in a way to beautify the general area, so it gives a good impression of the celebration that is being broadcast to the whole world."
El-Sisi's promises to bring stability have come amid heavy clampdown on dissent.
Several number of prominent secular activists have been imprisoned, while un-authorised protests have been banned.
Yesterday hundreds of football fans ignored the leader's diktat, setting off firecrackers and waved banners at a rally inside a Cairo park.
The event commemorate the deaths of 22 people killed in clashes last year between the police and fans of the Zamalek football club.