El Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed meet in Cairo as nations sign $7.7bn deals

A joint communique on the prince's two-day visit to Egypt says prince Mohammed has stated the kingdom's intention to invest $30 billion in Egypt

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met in Cairo on Tuesday for talks on a wide range of regional and bilateral issues as the two nations signed deals worth $7.7 billion.

Prince Mohammed also announced the kingdom's intention to invest $30 billion in Egypt, according to a joint communique at the end of his two-day visit. No details or timeline for this investment were immediately available.

An Egyptian presidential statement said the prince and Mr El Sisi met at Cairo's presidential Ittahadiyah palace, where the Saudi royal was given a state reception, complete with a guard of honour and the playing of the two countries' national anthems.

Prince Mohammed arrived in Cairo on Monday night and was scheduled to leave for Jordan later on Tuesday.

During their talks, the statement said, Mr El Sisi and the Saudi prince were in agreement on the “importance” of next month's meeting in Saudi Arabia between US President Joe Biden and leaders of the GCC — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman — as well as Iraqi prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, Jordan's King Abdullah II and President El Sisi.

It did not give any details, but the meeting in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah was expected to focus on energy supplies, the war in Yemen, Iran's perceived meddling in the Arab world and the fallout from Ukraine war on the region.

“The president emphasised (to Prince Mohammed), Egypt's commitment to the security of the Gulf region as an extension of Egypt's own national security and the rejection of practices designed to undermine its stability,” the statement said.

The two leaders, continued the statement, discussed their countries' stand against the “interference in the internal affairs of Arab nations that's designed to undermine the stability of the region and its people.”

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been close allies for decades, with both Cairo and Riyadh working closely on foreign policy and security issues. Cairo, moreover, has consistently looked to Riyadh for economic support and investments, while Saudi businessmen found the market in Egypt — the most populous Arab nation with 103 million people _ a lucrative proposition given its size.

The militaries of both nations also frequently stage war games and coordinate patrolling the strategic Red Sea. At least three million Egyptians live and work in Saudi Arabia whose remittances are a major source of foreign currency.

The deals signed earlier on Tuesday between are testimony to the close economic ties between the two regional powerhouses.

The deals cover sectors that include renewable energy, green hydrogen, pharmaceuticals and e-commerce, according to Egypt's official Middle East News Agency.

Saudi Arabian investment in Egypt’s private sector has exceeded $35bn, according to Bandr Al Amri, head of the Saudi Business Council, citing latest statistics.

This investment is expected to increase by about $10bn in the next five years, Mr Al Amri said in a statement broadcast by the Al Ekhbariya TV channel.

“We are witnessing a big economic boom in Saudi Arabia and we are inviting the Egyptian investors to invest in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“We will provide them with the needed facilities based on the strategic relation with Egypt. We also invite the Saudis to invest in Egypt as it has great and unique investment opportunities.”

Trade volume between Saudi Arabia and Egypt reached 54 billion Saudi Riyals ($14.40) in 2021, with an 87 per cent increase from 2020, said the Federation of Saudi Chambers, an umbrella organisation representing the kingdom's business community in all sectors.

The countries have signed more than 160 bilateral agreements over the years, indicate FSC statistics cited by the Arabic economic service of the Saudi news agency.

Egyptian investment in Saudi Arabia reached $5bn on the eve of Prince Mohammed's visit to Cairo.

The value of remittance from Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia reached $9.6bn during the fiscal year 2019-2020, compared with $8.5bn during the previous year, an increase of 12.4 per cent, according to Capmas.

Updated: June 21, 2022, 5:52 PM
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