The leaders of the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and Iraq met on Tuesday on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast for a mini Arab summit that has been hailed as an opportunity to enhance inter-Arab partnerships.
President Sheikh Mohamed arrived in the coastal city of New Alamein on Sunday, where he and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. They were joined on Monday by Bahrain's King Hamad, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi.
On Tuesday, the UAE President, Mr El Sisi, King Abdullah and King Hamad took part in “El Alamein Meeting”.
“I was pleased to participate alongside the leaders of Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan in a productive meeting in El Alamein, Egypt,” said Sheikh Mohamed. “The UAE continues to co-ordinate with its Arab neighbours to promote stability, development and prosperity in the region.”
During the meeting, the leaders discussed co-operation, including economic and development partnerships, a statement from state news agency Wam said.
“The leaders renewed their support for any effort and endeavour aimed at enhancing peace, stability and joint co-operation … to achieve the aspirations of the people of the region for progress, prosperity and development,” it said.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments, emphasising further talks to boost stability and prosperity in the region.
The Egyptian president also hosted a lunch attended by Sheikh Mohamed, King Hamad and King Abdullah.
Among those who attended the banquet were Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation; Sheikh Zayed bin Mohamed; and Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, Adviser for Special Affairs at the Presidential Court.
Also in attendance were Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; Dr Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Adviser to the President; Ali Al Shamsi, deputy secretary general of the Supreme National Security Council; and Humaid Abushibs, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority.
The five leaders met informally on Monday and “exchanged views on ways to strengthen bilateral relations and co-operation” between their countries, the Egyptian presidency said.
Later on Monday, the leaders inaugurated a luxury seaside resort at New Alamein, one of about a dozen new cities built since Mr El Sisi took office in 2014. A massive display of fireworks marked the occasion.
They met again on Tuesday before the Iraqi prime minister cut short his stay and flew home to deal with the latest development in his country’s months-old political crisis, the Egyptian presidency reported.
Mr Al Kadhimi decided to leave following the escalation of protests in Baghdad, with followers of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr starting a sit-in outside the Supreme Judiciary Council inside the Iraqi capital's Green Zone, home to government offices, judicial complexes and foreign embassies.
The prime minister returned home “to directly monitor the performance of the security forces in protecting the state's institutions and the judiciary”, his office said.
Mr El Sisi saw the Iraqi leader off at Alamein airport, the Egyptian presidency said.
The conflict, involving two of the world's biggest grain producers, has caused food and energy prices to rise steeply.
The Egyptian presidency said the five leaders on Tuesday discussed “all aspects of joint co-operation”.
It added: “The leaders also renewed their support to all efforts and endeavours that aim at deepening security, peace, stability and co-operation on all levels.
“The five leaders also reviewed and exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues.”
The statement by the Egyptian presidency did not elaborate but state media and diplomatic sources familiar with the agenda of the talks said the leaders' discussions dealt with economic co-operation and national security as well as regional and international issues.
State-owned Egyptian daily Al Ahram reported that they also discussed the dispute pitting Egypt and Sudan against Ethiopia over its nearly completed dam on the Blue Nile.
The $4.2 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, set to be the largest hydroelectric project in Africa, has been at the centre of a regional dispute since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.
Egypt and Sudan want Ethiopia to enter a legally binding agreement on the operation and filling of the dam. Addis Ababa has rejected their demand, arguing that guidelines should suffice.
The wars in Yemen, Syria and Libya, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, were also on the agenda, according to Al Ahram.
Iraq is the only country among the five summit participants that does not recognise Israel.
Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, and the UAE and Bahrain normalised ties with the country in 2020.
“This summit gives Arab citizens a dose of optimism that the time has come for serious joint Arab action,” said Egyptian political analyst and retired diplomat Mustafa Al Fiqi.
Egypt's former assistant foreign minister, Mohamed Hegazy, now a political commentator, said the summit “offers a glimpse of hope to Arab nations because it aims to reach Arab solutions for the crises besetting the region”.
“We are entering a phase of serious inter-Arab co-operation,” said political analyst Sobhy Aseela.
“This one is for security, economic and political integration for everyone's benefit,” he added, referring to the summit in New Alamein.
A significant level of co-operation among the five nations is already in place.
Last month, Bahrain joined the Industrial Partnership for Sustainable Economic Development that had previously comprised the UAE, Egypt and Jordan.
The agreement boosts the industrial manufacturing value of the informal alliance to more than $112.5bn.
The partnership aims to establish large, joint industrial projects, create job opportunities, contribute to a growth in economic output, diversify the economies of partner countries, support industrial production and boost exports, said officials.