Saudi Arabia’s economic investments in Egypt run deep

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Sunday. (SPA)
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A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on March 4, 2018 shows Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C) shaking hands with Egyptian officials upon his arrival in Cairo. (Egyptian Presidency handout photo via AFP)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s economic investments in Egypt run deep

CAIRO: The visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Egypt comes as Saudi investment in the country continues to grow, boosted by easing trade restrictions, a weak Egyptian pound and plans for a bridge linking the two countries.
The Egyptian government is pushing to make foreign investment in the country easier to help the economy recover from the tumultuous period that followed the Arab Spring.
Saudi Minister of State Essam bin Saad bin Saeed said last week that the Kingdom is keen to enhance economic relations with Egypt and intends to pump money into new investments in the country.
According to the Egyptian state news agency MENA, Saudi investments in Egypt top those of other Arab countries.
At the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council last month in Cairo, Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Tariq Qabeel said the volume of trade exchange between the two countries in 2017 amounted to about $2.1 billion and that the volume of Saudi investments in Egypt exceeded $6 billion — about 11 percent of all foreign investments in Egypt.
President of the General Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Ahmed Al-Wakil, said the total Saudi investments in Egypt are worth up to $27 billion, which are spread across 2,900 projects in a huge variety of product and service sectors.
The Kingdom is also the second largest in terms of tourism — accounting for millions of dollars a year, according to Egyptian Ministry of Tourism figures.
The UAE and Kuwait have also been big investors in Egypt since Abdel Fattah El-Sisi became president.
The scale of Saudi Arabia’s investment is expected to increase after officials from Egypt and the Kingdom said they wanted to reduce the number of obstacles between the two countries by standardizing rules and making it easier to transport goods and services between the two.
Egypt has also become a more attractive prospect for investors since the central bank liberalized the exchange rate in November 2016 as part of a $12 billion International Monetary Fund reform program. The pound lost half of its value after the float.
The improved investment environment in Egypt means some major Saudi companies are considering establishing more projects in the Egyptian market.
A number of Saudi businessmen view some of the new cities being built in Egypt as strong investment opportunities.
The most important Saudi investments in Egypt are in the service sector, including energy, transport, logistics, health and education.
The Egyptian-Saudi Electricity Exchange Project, a scheme agreed in 2011 to connect the two countries’ power grids, is probably the most important investment to date.
Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Dr. Mohammad Shaker, said in December that work is ongoing on the project but that the electrical connection lines between the two countries are expected to run in early 2021.
The King Salman Bridge project, which Egyptian sources said would be discussed during Prince Mohammed’s visit, will link Sharm El-Sheikh to the Tabuk region of northern Saudi Arabia.
Construction of the 50-kilometer bridge was announced during King Salman’s visit to Egypt in 2016. The bridge will help pilgrims, tourists and expatriate workers to travel easily between the countries and offer a significant improvement in trade between the two countries.
The bridge is also expected to boost energy links. Dr. Jamal Al-Kalioubi, a professor of petroleum and energy engineering, said the bridge would be one of the important ways to secure the oil and gas needs of neighboring Arab countries.
The visit is also expected to boost energy cooperation. The Egyptian government announced on Thursday that it had agreed with Saudi Aramco to supply 500,000 barrels per month of crude oil to the Egyptian refineries for six months from January to June. The Saudi National Oil Company had already provided oil to the Egyptian refineries in November and December 2017 on a trial basis.
During King Salman’s 2016 visit to Egypt, Riyadh agreed to supply Cairo with 700,000 tons of refined oil products per month for five years.
King Salman witnessed the signing of 21 agreements and investment memorandums of understanding between the two countries, most notably for the establishment of a free trade area in northern Sinai, which is the first important economic project linked to the construction of the bridge.


Old Jeddah celebrates Saudi National Day in its own unique way

Updated 2 min 8 sec ago
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Old Jeddah celebrates Saudi National Day in its own unique way

  • Visitors were welcomed in a traditional Saudi way of welcoming guests through singing folk songs that include Arabic poetry.
  • The event also included an exhibition of the ‘Hijazi dances’ and ‘Haret Zaman’, which embodies the city of Jeddah during the last 80 years.

JEDDAH: A four-day event is to be held in Old Jeddah to mark Saudi National Day with activities organized by the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation, known as Misk.
The events, which kicked off in the Al-Balad area on Sept. 20 and run from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m, aim to highlight the most important historical monuments through displaying activities related to the Kingdom’s unification. Historical Jeddah is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The event will run until Sep 23. In all 22 cultural activities and entertainments have been organized.
Visitors were welcomed in a traditional Saudi way of welcoming guests through singing folk songs that include Arabic poetry. The songs were performed by Yousef Al-Zubairi, who has participated in many national events. He has been performing Hijazi folk songs for more than 13 years.
Yousef Al-Zubairi told Arab News: “I welcome the visitors so that they feel cherished by being here, especially when they come in large groups. I perform the Hijazi hymns called Majassat, it is a traditional folk song.”
The event also included an exhibition of the ‘Hijazi dances’ and ‘Haret Zaman’, which embodies the city of Jeddah during the last 80 years. An open exhibition of handicrafts and traditional dishes has also been laid on.
A number of famous Saudi media influencers attended the event including poet Adwa Al-Dakheel and singer Hisham Abdulrahman.
A 25-meter mural was created by a team of four Saudi artists to mark the day and express their feelings.
Faisal Arif, one of the organizers, said: “The mural contains many distinctive features that personalize the National Day including the new logo of the national day and many prominent symbols related to the Kingdom.”
Abdul Aziz Al-Andanosi, the founder of the art team and owner of Dhad art store, told Arab News: “The mural features parts of the national anthem and many other slogans such as NEOM and Vision 2030.”
A special space has been allocated to a group of talented painters and hobbyists to display their paintings that express their love and gratitude to Saudi Arabia.
Museum of historic items
A number of museums were opened to visitors as part of the event.
Abeer Bashmakh, a fan of Saudi history and archaeology, volunteers each year to spread the knowledge and civilization of the Kingdom to others, introducing visitors to the beauty of Hijazi heritage.
Bashmakh tells visitors about the history of the Hijaz and the historical items found in the Hijaz area, such as ancient Islamic inscriptions.
She told Arab News: “The existence of these jugs engraved in the house was considered as a sign of luxury as the age of the antiquities and collectibles is around 50 to 150 years old and it has inscriptions of the Umayyad period (661–750CE), all of which were discovered in the Arabian Peninsula or in the Hijaz.”
Fouad Bukhari and his rare collection of all Saudi Arabia’s paper and metal coins from the time of its first king to the present was one of the outstanding contributions.
Bukhari owns a private museum in his home containing a large collection of the most important and rare Saudi and Hijazi coins, as well as the first postage stamp created by the first Saudi state.
Bukhari said: “I am proud to participate today to spread the knowledge among the younger generation about the rarest currencies and stamps of the country.”
He added: “I have coins dating back to (1344) in the Islamic calendar (1925), the year in which the first coin belonging to the Saudi state under King Abdul Aziz was made. It does not contain the two swords and palm tree, as it was adopted to the Saudi currency for the first time during the rule of King Saud.”
Three soundproof pavilions were available for children and adults to sing the Saudi National Anthem and share them on social media platforms.