Cairo and Riyadh's relations are deep-rooted, says Egypt's culture minister

Ahram Online , Friday 3 Feb 2017

Culture Minister Helmy El-Namnam
File Photo: Minister of Culture Helmy El-Namnam (Photo: courtesy of Al Ahram Weekly)

Cairo and Riyadh have enjoyed a deep relationship throughout history, Egyptian Culture Minister Helmy El-Namnam said on Thursday in a speech to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Janadriyah 31 Festival.

In statements reported by MENA agency, El-Namnam said the “despite some whirlwinds that occur every once and then, relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia are deep-rooted in history and bonded throughout geographical, religious, and human ties that are inextricable and could never be shaken by anyone.”

Egypt is the guest of honour at the festival, which celebrates Saudi heritage and culture.

“We are in front of a major festival that is rooted and develops every year for the better, where Saudi Arabia celebrates the cultural and creative aspects of its country and Gulf countries. We are delighted as the Egyptian culture ministry to receive an invitation from King Salman to be the guest of honour at this year’s round as it reflects the depth of relations between the two countries,” El-Namnam said.

The Egyptian culture minister added that “the archaeological excavations and historical studies conducted by researchers from around the world affirm that the connection has existed between Egypt and the Arab Peninsula throughout history.”

“When Saudi Arabia was founded, the relations were connected through a brotherly bond between the kingdom and Egypt, especially during the reign of founder King Abdel Aziz and Egypt’s King Fouad I. The relationship continues between the two countries today, to form together a balancing force in our disturbed Arab world. People in our region rely on this relationship to bring them to the safe haven of the presence of leaders President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and King Salman,” El-Namnam said.

The relationship between Egypt and Saudi, a major ally and source of financial support, has seen rocky periods in the last year.

A bilateral maritime borders agreement that placed two Red Sea islands under the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia caused controversy in Egypt when it was announced last April. The deal has stalled in the face of court challenges, and last month the High Administrative Court affirmed Egyptian sovereignty over the two islands, rejecting a government appeal.

The Egyptian parliament will still have the final say on the controversial agreement, according to parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal.

In November, Saudi national oil company Aramco informed Egypt that it has suspended its oil shipments until further notice “for no reason”, according to Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla.

Saudi Arabia has supported Cairo with billions of dollars in loans, grants, oil products and cash deposits since the toppling of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

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