President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi conducted a one-day visit to close regional ally Saudi Arabia on Sunday, during which Egypt’s ambassador to Riyadh said the two countries would aim to address numerous shared challenges “facing the Arab and Muslim world”, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.
Egyptian Ambassador Afifi Abdel Wahab said the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Egypt is at the “core of the Arab nation” and encompasses the region’s security and stability. He added that the two “brotherly” countries’ historical ties form “a bridge based on strong partnership in all aspects of the interests of the two peoples and the Arab and Muslim world”.
Abdel Wahab reiterated his country’s appreciation for the “honourable positions” taken by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud towards Egypt. The message of appreciation was one which Egypt’s Al-Sisi sought to deliver during his visit, his first to the Gulf country since his inauguration as president in June.
Saudi Arabia has been a staunch supporter of Egypt’s political transition since the military-backed ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi last July. In the months that followed, King Abdullah voiced his country’s support for Egypt’s “stand against terrorism”, and was quick to congratulate Al-Sisi after his landslide presidential victory over rival Hamdeen Sabahy in May.
While the Secretary General of the Egyptian Saudi-Businessmen Association said Saturday that the president’s visit would be “more political than economic” in nature, the latter has also seen considerable strengthening in the last year.
Morsi’s July ouster was quickly followed by a raft of financial aid from Gulf countries totalling $12bn, with Saudi Arabia in particular contributing $5bn in grants, deposits and petroleum products to support Egypt’s ailing economy.
To this same end, Saudi Arabia is coordinating with the UAE and Egypt to spearhead the organisation of the “Friends of Egypt” conference, which the Kingdom advocated for shortly after Al-Sisi assumed office and Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb announced would be held in late 2014 or early 2015.
In late June, Al-Sisi met briefly with the Saudi King on the latter’s airplane during a stopover in Cairo to discuss preparations for the conference, as well as bilateral relations and Egypt’s role in the region.