Red Sea islands ruling will not affect Egypt's economic ties with Saudi Arabia: Minister

Ahram Online , Friday 24 Jun 2016

Sisi and Salman
Egypt's President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman during holding talks in Cairo last April (Photo: Al Ahram)

The court ruling that voided the recently announced Egyptian-Saudi border demarcation agreement – which placed two Red Sea islands in Saudi waters – will not affect the economic ties between the two countries, said Minister of Investment Dalia Khourshid on Friday.

"Both countries are working closely to establish the Egyptian-Saudi investment fund to promote joint investments between the two countries in various economic sectors," Khourshid said in press statements.

On Tuesday, Egypt's Administrative Court voided the April deal which put the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, long under Egyptian control, in Saudi territorial waters.

The court said the two islands “remain Egyptian.”

Within hours after the ruling, the State Lawsuit Authority, which represents the government in legal cases, filed an appeal with the High Administrative Court.

The high court set a hearing for the appeal for Sunday.

Economic ties

Saudi Arabia has been - along with Kuwait and UAE - a strong supporter of the government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, providing Cairo with cash, loans and oil shipments.

In 2015, trade between Egypt and Saudi Arabia totalled $6.3 billion, compared to around five billion dollars the year before.

In April, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed loan agreements and economic cooperation accords worth over $24 billion.

The accords included $22 billion in finance for Egypt’s five-year petroleum needs and a $1.5 billion concessional loan and $200 million grant from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) to upgrade Sinai’s infrastructure and finance transportation, housing and agricultural projects.

The agreement also included a $120 million concessional loan from the SFD to renovate Cairo's historical Kasr El-Aini Hospital and another $100 million loan to finance the expansion of the West Cairo power station to generate an additional 650 megawatts.

These agreements include establishing the Egyptian-Saudi investment fund worth some $16 billion, in addition to Josur Al-Mahabba Company developing the Suez Canal area with EGP 3 billion (roughly $337 million).

El-Sisi and King Salman also signed an agreement to establish a bridge over the Red Sea to connect the two countries, which separates, with experts saying that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir will be important spots in the construction process.

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