Sisi and Mohammed bin Salman discuss strengthening Egyptian-Saudi cooperation over Suhoor in Jeddah

Ahram Online , Monday 3 Apr 2023

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman held talks on Monday to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral cooperation during a Suhoor, held in Jeddah following El-Sisi's arrival.

Sisi, Mohammed bin Salman
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi being received by Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, upon his arrival to Jeddah on Sunday night. Photo courtesy of Saudi Press Agency


El-Sisi arrived a few hours earlier, on Sunday night, in Jeddah and was received by the Crown Prince at the airport.

The two sides underscored during their meeting the importance of the visit in advancing bilateral relations, reiterating their mutual commitment to forging closer cooperation in all areas for the benefit of the two peoples, according to a statement by Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Ahmed Fahmy.

They "lauded the remarkable, solid and historical relations between the two countries across all levels," read the statement.

Both leaders also emphasised during the meeting their commitment to continuing coordination and consultations on regional and international issues and developments, Fahmy added.

During their meeting, Bin Salman welcomed El-Sisi "in his second country, Saudi Arabia", while the later expressed "appreciation for the warm welcome and generous hospitality" extended to him and the accompanying delegation, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Moreover, the two leaders reviewed “the close and historical relations between the two brotherly countries”, and explored prospects for cooperation and ways to enhance and develop them in various fields.

They discussed developments in the regional and international situation and the efforts exerted in addressing them, in addition to tackling all issues of common concern, the SPA said.

"I express my gratitude and appreciation for the warm reception and hospitality. I also affirm the deep, strong bilateral relations between Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," a presidential statement quoted El-Sisi as saying following the meeting.

He also expressed his aspiration to develop and strengthen these relations in all fields in a way that achieves the common interests of our two countries and the great aspirations of our peoples, noted Fahmy.

The meeting was attended by the Head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (GIS) Abbas Kamel, Saudi Minister of State and National Security Adviser Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, and Minister of State and cabinet member Essam bin Saad bin Saeed.

El-Sisi’s visit to Saudi Arabia is the first after a back-and-forth occurred in early 2023 between various media figures in Egypt and Saudi Arabia on alleged tensions between the two countries.

In February, El-Sisi pointedly criticised how "some social media platforms or some articles talk about our relations with our brethren in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” stressing the importance of not listening to these sites that “aim to cause discord with our brethren”.

“I have noticed excessive enthusiasm, or should I say transgressions, on social media platforms towards our brethren on issues that have no basis in reality,” the president said at the time.

It is not appropriate at all, El-Sisi said, to use abusive language or say unfounded things, even if, hypothetically speaking, there were a dispute.

He also indicated that Egypt values its good relations with our Arab brethren and does not accept insults against them or attempts to sow discord with them, stressing "we should not forget how our brethren have stood with us."

Economic relations

Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s economic relations have been developing in the recent years.

In the first nine months of 2022, Saudi Arabia ranked first among the first ten Arab countries importing from Egypt, with a value of $1.8 billion, according to a report issued by the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) in December.

Saudi Arabia also came on top of the list of top Arab exporters to Egypt with $6.4 billion during the same period in 2022, the CAPMAS added.

As per the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, trade exchange between the two countries grew significantly in 2021 to record $14.5 billion — an increase of 88 percent to 2020’s.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia is the second largest investor in Egypt, investing $6.1 billion in 6,017 projects in industry, construction, tourism, agriculture, services, finance, communications and information technology, said Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Ahmed Samir in December.

In August, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, launched the Saudi Egyptian Investment Company (SEIC) to invest in promising Egyptian sectors and ensure enhancing access for the PIF and the Saudi private sector to the promising investment opportunities in Egypt.

Earlier in June, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed investment agreements worth $7.7 billion, which were described at the time by the then-CEO of General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) Mohamed Abdel-Wahab as "a qualitative leap in the investment relations between the two countries."

In March 2022, at the outset of the global economic crisis that has been caused by the pandemic and deepened by the Russi-Ukraine war, Saudi Arabia deposited $5 billion in the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).

The SPA reported at the time that the deposit comes as part of the “rigid bonds and close cooperative relations” between the two countries and is a “gesture of confirmation of their deep-rooted relations”.

Prior to the war, in October 2021, Saudi Arabia deposited $3 billion in the CBE and extended the maturity of other deposits worth $2.3 billion.

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