UAE pledge of more aid to rebuild Sisi’s Egypt
ABU DHABI // The UAE pledged unprecedented support to Egypt yesterday to maintain stability and rebuild its economy.
Plans are already being drawn up in the wake of last week’s landslide presidential election victory by the former military chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, called for international help.
With the German foreign minister Dr Frank Walter Steinmeier at his side, he said: “We want to have partners from around the world involved, whether it be partners like Germany or institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. Egypt is a sisterly Arab country and always we stand by them. But this time our support for Egypt after the election there will be entirely different from what we have done so far.”
UAE aid to Egypt since the removal of the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last July is already massive: US$6 billion, more than Dh22bn, in cash and interest-free loans to guarantee fuel supplies and fund projects in health care, education, food, housing and transport. In March the UAE contractor Arabtec began talks with the Egyptian government aimed at building a million low-cost homes, one of Egypt’s most pressing needs.
Sheikh Abdullah’s remarks suggest that more is on the way, and he was echoed by Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. “Egypt and its people are dear to us,” Dr Gargash said. “The challenges are great and the expectations huge, but the moment we see today is the most hope-filled for three years.”
Responding to a question on Syria at the ministers’ joint press conference, Sheikh Abdullah said: “We have good relations with Syria and the UAE wants to bing about a permanent political solution.
“We have agreed with other countries to resolve the Syrian crisis and our support in this regard is continuing.”
Sheikh Abdullah also expressed concerns about relations with Iran beyond nuclear and territorial issues.
“We want peace not only in the GCC region but all the Middle East. The biggest problem is that Iran from time to time interferes in the internal issues of Arab countries, which is completely unacceptable.
“We are urging the international community to step in to resolve the Iranian issues concerning all the region’s stability.”
Dr Steinmeier agreed the matter needed to be resolved with the help of the international community to aid cooperation in the region.
He said the negotiations between world powers and Iran over its disputed nuclear programme have been “encouraging”.
Iran’s Arabian Gulf neighbours have been wary of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions but have officially welcomed the talks aimed at striking a long-term compromise, said Dr Steinmeier.
Sheikh Abdullah said relations between Germany and the UAE were sound and developing each year. “The relations can be gauged from our bilateral trade ties amounting to more than 10 billion euros,” he said.
“We have strategic relationships between both countries.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also met Dr Steinmeier to confirm the keenness of both countries’ leaderships to enhance relations. More than 12,000 Germans live in the UAE.
Published: May 31, 2014 04:00 AM