King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (right) and the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met in Saudi Arabia this week and discussed regional issues and economic cooperation.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (right) and the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met in Saudi Arabia this week and discussed regional issues and economic cooperation.

Morsi enters the world stage with Saudi Arabia trip



Jeddah // On his first foreign trip as Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi praised King Abdullah, saying the Saudi king spoke with "wisdom and knowledge and love for the Egyptian people".

His trip to Saudi Arabia, undertaken in the US$275 million (Dh1bn) Airbus A340 aircraft Hosni Mubarak used, marked Egypt's return to the foreign arena, which it had largely disappeared from after last year's uprising that toppled the Mubarak regime.

Mr Morsi met the King Abdullah in Jeddah on Wednesday as both countries seek to mend ties that were strained by the political upheaval in Egypt last year.

The Egyptian leader said he chose Saudi Arabia for his first official visit because of the "deep rooted and historical relationship shared between the two countries".

"The stability of the region depends on the stability of Egypt and the Gulf, at the head of which stands Saudi Arabia," Mr Morsi said.

Our discussions were "fruitful and constructive and in the interest of Egypt, of Saudi Arabia and of the people of the region," Morsi told reporters in after the meeting. "Everything (King Abdullah) said was in the interest of the future, of the region and of Egypt," he said.

Under Mubarak, Egypt and Saudi Arabia had close relations but in April, Riyadh recalled its ambassador in Cairo and closed its embassy for several days after protests demanding the release of a lawyer and rights activist detained in the Kingdom.

Mohammed Kamel Amr, Egypt's foreign minister, told Egypt's state news agency Mena that "any progress in relations between the two countries is in the interest of the whole region". He added that Mr Morsi's visit would reflect positively on the economic ties between the two nations.

Egypt's economy is a priority for Mr Morsi. Growth has stalled and the Egyptian Central Bank has said it is within weeks of running out of cash for imports. Mena quoted a spokesman for Mr Morsi saying that Riyadh had agreed to increase its investment in the country.

Saudi Arabia has been the only country to lend money to Egypt since the uprising, pledging more than US$4bn in direct economic assistance in the last 16 months. In addition, Saudi Arabia is home to an estimated 1.7 million Egyptians whose remittances are crucial to Egypt's economy.

"Saudi Arabia and Egypt are like two wings [sustaining] the Arab countries," said Anwar Eshki, the chairman of the Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies and an adviser to Saudi's Cabinet of Ministers.

Mr Morsi's trip comes at a time of heightened tensions throughout the region. Syria, which was once party to a Saudi-Egyptian alliance, is now in crisis.

Riyadh has supported the opposition to the regime of Bashar Al Assad and has sought to isolate the country's strongest remaining regional ally, Iran. But Egypt has indicated that it may seek to reopen ties with Tehran.

"Saudi Arabia will try to make sure that there is no rapprochement between the new president of Egypt elected and the Iranian regime," said Omar Ashour, a Cairo-based fellow at the Brookings Institution. a think tank.

Mr Ashour said that Riyadh may also try to leverage its reaffirmed alliance to support the Syrian opposition. "Many of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood members in the opposition look to the Egyptians as their mentors or guides and Saudis will be attempting to exploit that."

This shifting regional landscape may help facilitate a reconciliation of historic ties between the Kingdom and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr Morsi has emphasised several times, including in his inauguration speech, that the Brotherhood does not intend to export their revolution Yesterday he made a pilgrimage to Medina, according to the official SPA news agency. The Egyptian president's visit to the Kingdom begins a series of foreign trips, including his attendance at the summit of the African Union in Ethiopia next week.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Find the right policy for you

Don’t wait until the week you fly to sign up for insurance – get it when you book your trip. Insurance covers you for cancellation and anything else that can go wrong before you leave.

Some insurers, such as World Nomads, allow you to book once you are travelling – but, as Mr Mohammed found out, pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.

Check your credit card before booking insurance to see if you have any travel insurance as a benefit – most UAE banks, such as Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, have cards that throw in insurance as part of their package. But read the fine print – they may only cover emergencies while you’re travelling, not cancellation before a trip.

Pre-existing medical conditions such as a heart condition, diabetes, epilepsy and even asthma may not be included as standard. Again, check the terms, exclusions and limitations of any insurance carefully.

If you want trip cancellation or curtailment, baggage loss or delay covered, you may need a higher-grade plan, says Ambareen Musa of Souqalmal.com. Decide how much coverage you need for emergency medical expenses or personal liability. Premium insurance packages give up to $1 million (Dh3.7m) in each category, Ms Musa adds.

Don’t wait for days to call your insurer if you need to make a claim. You may be required to notify them within 72 hours. Gather together all receipts, emails and reports to prove that you paid for something, that you didn’t use it and that you did not get reimbursed.

Finally, consider optional extras you may need, says Sarah Pickford of Travel Counsellors, such as a winter sports holiday. Also ensure all individuals can travel independently on that cover, she adds. And remember: “Cheap isn’t necessarily best.”

South Africa squad

: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen (wkt), Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.

If you go

There are regular flights from Dubai to Kathmandu. Fares with Air Arabia and flydubai start at Dh1,265.
In Kathmandu, rooms at the Oasis Kathmandu Hotel start at Dh195 and Dh120 at Hotel Ganesh Himal.
Third Rock Adventures offers professionally run group and individual treks and tours using highly experienced guides throughout Nepal, Bhutan and other parts of the Himalayas.

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Source: Emirates