Saudi crown prince receives warm welcome in Egypt
CAIRO - Egyptian officials underscored support for Saudi Arabia and strong links with the oil-rich Gulf country during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, saying Saudi Arabia’s security and stability were inseparable from Egypt’s.
“Our alliance with Saudi Arabia is strong,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said during his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed, according to the president’s office.
Crown Prince Mohammad arrived in Cairo late November 26 as part of a six-country Arab tour that included the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The crown prince was given a warm welcome November 27 on the streets of Cairo as his motorcade travelled to the presidential palace to meet with Sisi.
Hundreds raised the Saudi and Egyptian flags in a show of support for Crown Prince Mohammed against the backdrop of international criticism after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.
Egyptian social media activists launched the Arabic hashtag “Welcome to your second homeland” to greet the crown prince, which became the second most trending Arabic-language hashtag behind one referring to the Bahraini elections.
This was Crown Prince Mohammed’s second visit to Cairo since becoming crown prince in July 2017 and his sixth to the Egyptian capital since 2015.
Sisi’s talks with the crown prince focused on bilateral relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and developments in the region, reports in Saudi and Egyptian media said.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt reiterated the 13 demands submitted by the so-called Arab Quartet, which also includes the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, local media reported. The quartet established a boycott of Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of cosying up to Iran and of supporting Islamic extremists and terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Crown Prince Mohammed was accompanied by a large delegation that included Saudi cabinet members, investors and business leaders.
The Egyptian-Saudi Business Council convened November 27 to discuss expanding economic cooperation between the two countries and pushing investment cooperation between them forward.
“There is no doubt that the visit will contribute to the realisation of the vision of the two governments to increase the volume of trade and to become a major economic market in the region,” Egyptian Trade Minister Amr Nassar said.
Economic cooperation between the two Arab countries has been on the rise in the past year. Trade exchange grew 30%, reaching $6.2 billion. Saudi Arabia invests approximately $27 billion in Egypt. Nearly 5,000 Saudi companies operate in the Egyptian market, local media said.
Discussions during Egyptian-Saudi Business Council meeting focused on industrial integration, cooperation in mining, electricity and the service sector.
Egyptian and Saudi businessmen agreed to a mechanism for settling economic and investment disputes.
“Egypt is an important gateway for Saudi products into African and European markets,” said Abdullah bin Mahfouz, the head of the Egyptian-Saudi Business Council.
He confirmed that the council would work to increase Saudi investments in Egypt by 10% annually in the coming years.
Chairman of the Egyptian Investment Authority Mohsen Adel said Egypt and Saudi Arabia greatly needed intensify their economic cooperation.
“This cooperation is necessary if the two countries are to evade the international economic crisis that is looming,” Adel said.