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.


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.