Saudi King Salman visits Egypt ahead of expected investment deals

Thursday 07-04-2016 05:36 PM

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Salman of Saudi Arabia shake hands during the reception ceremony in the Egyptian Presidential Palace in Cairo - Photo from the presidency

By Reuters

Saudi King Salman arrived in Egypt on Thursday (April 7) in his first official visit to the country, meeting Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The rare foreign trip by the 80-year-old Saudi ruler will counter media commentary in both countries of discord between the richest Arab state and the most populous, to show Riyadh still backs Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Gulf monarchies have lavished aid on Egypt since 2013, but have grown increasingly disillusioned at what they see as Sisi's inability to address entrenched corruption and inefficiency in the economy, and at Cairo's reduced role on the regional stage.

However, with Iraq, Syria and Yemen immersed in civil war, and Saudi Arabia preoccupied by its own region-wide tussle with Iran, Riyadh is determined to stop the Egyptian state from failing. It will maintain some aid despite its own tighter budgets from falling global oil prices, analysts say.

In recent months, groups of Egyptian ministers have flown to Riyadh almost weekly for meetings with their Saudi counterparts, a diplomat said, and officials are planning to unveil Saudi investments of $4 billion this week.

Saudi Arabia is also expected to sign a $20 billion deal to finance Egypt's petroleum needs for the next five years and a $1.5 billion deal to develop its Sinai region, two Egyptian government sources told Reuters.

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