File photo: Qatari Prime Minister and head of state Hamad ben Jassem (Photo: Reuters)
Qatar will inject $18 billion worth of investments into Egypt over the course of the coming five years, Hamad Bin Jassim, the oil-rich gulf state's foreign minister, said at a press conference in Cairo on Thursday.
Of the pledged investment, some $8 billion will be allocated to electricity and natural gas projects in areas east of the Suez Canal, where Egypt has longstanding plans to build a massive industrial city. Another $10 billion will go to a planned tourist resort on Egypt's north coast.
In yet another indication of newfound warmth between the two nations, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met with Bin Jassim following the latter's arrival to Cairo on Thursday.
In early August, Qatar pledged to deposit $2 billion in the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) as a means of easing the country's balance-of-payments deficit. The promise was made following a visit by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to Egypt, where he too met with Morsi.
Later in August, Qatar deposited the first tranche – worth some $500 million – in the CBE.
Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, for his part, said at a Thursday press conference that Qatar would transfer the rest of the pledged $2 billion in three instalments within the next two-month period.
In 2011, Qatar had said it would provide Egypt with a $10 billion grant, with which to support Egypt's post-revolution economy, but only ended up disbursing $500 million later in the year.
Qatar's name has begun to resonate among Egyptian business circles, with Qatar's National Bank recently offering to buy a controlling stake in National Societe Generale Bank, one of Egypt's largest private lenders.