Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit is big business in Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fatatah El-Sisi receives Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the presidential office in Cairo on Nov. 26, 2018. (AN photo by Bandar Al- Jaloud)
Updated 28 November 2018

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit is big business in Egypt

  • From bilateral agreements to private deals, there is much being made between the two countries
  • Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab investor in the Egyptian market, and the second largest foreign investor in general

CAIRO: This is the sixth visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Cairo, and the second since he assumed the post of crown prince in June 2017. The last time he visited, in March of this year, there was a flurry of bilateral agreements involving billions of dollars in investment projects. 

These agreements are only part of the strength of the two countries’ strategic relationship, but they reflect a wider reality. Saudi investments in Egypt are growing at a rapid pace. 

 The Kingdom is quickly becoming the largest Arab investor in the Egyptian market, and the second largest foreign investor in general, accounting for 11 percent of total foreign investment in Egypt.

Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar said that the visit of the Saudi crown prince to Egypt was very important given the expansion in economic relations between the two countries.

“There is no doubt that the visit will contribute to the realization of the vision of the two governments to increase the volume of trade and to become a major economic market in the region,” Nassar said in a statement.

Under a $10-billion deal signed in March, Egypt agreed to develop land south of the Sinai to be part of Neom, the high-tech economic mega-city, a pillar of the crown prince’s Vision 2030. The $500-billion zone will span the borders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, with Egypt committing more than 1,000 square kilometers of land in the southern Sinai.

An Egyptian-Saudi investment fund was also set up, with a total of $16 billion being pumped into Saudi investment projects in a number of Egyptian governorates. 

The projects will be selected from Egypt’s investment map prepared by the Egyptian Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation in coordination with other ministries and government agencies.

As for private-sector investments, the Saudi-American Entertainment World group has allocated $3.3 billion for the establishment of a Disneyland in the new city of Alamein, while Saudi Arabia’s Sharbatly Group has announced the investment of $2.15 billion in tourism projects in the Red Sea and cement sector.

In late October, the Saudi-Egyptian Trade Mission, organized by the Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA), held an event with the participation of 60 Saudi companies and 28 Egyptian companies from the food and construction material sectors.

Saudi Arabia aims to promote its products and services to help local exporters find new markets, including Egypt, getting to know the needs of consumers and customers there. 

 

Earlier this month, Egypt’s Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities Dr. Mostafa Madbouly witnessed the signing ceremony of the purchase agreement for a 2,250 MW power station project in Luxor between the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co. and Saudi ACWA Power.

This came in the presence of the Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Dr. Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi, the Saudi Ambassador to Cairo Osama Ahmed Nugali, and the president of ACWA Power, Mohammed Abdullah Abunayyan.

At the time, Abunayyan affirmed that Egypt has become a platform to attract investment from different countries of the world under the leadership of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, where international companies are racing to be the cornerstones of various development projects in Egypt. 

He pointed out that during the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Egypt’s experience during the past five years in achieving economic growth received great praise, as well as praise for its future plans to achieve more positive indicators in the economy.

Also earlier this month, Ibrahim Al-Arabi, vice president of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce and president of the Cairo Chamber, received Anwar Ayed bin Hasouseh, the commercial missionary at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, to discuss ways to support Egyptian-Arab economic and investment relations in general, and with Saudi Arabia in particular.

Al-Arabi stressed the need to develop Egyptian-Saudi relations in the fields of trade and investment, especially in light of the good economic transactions between the two countries. 

He said that there are great foreign investment opportunities in Egypt that need to be promoted.

Bin Hasouseh stressed that the organization of bilateral meetings between businessmen, importers and exporters in the two countries and their participation in exhibitions will help to develop their investment and economic opportunities. 

He said that the purpose of his visit to the Cairo Chamber was to support bilateral relations and increase the volume of trade exchange between the two countries as well as at the Arab level during the next stage. 


Cocoa bean harvest: A sweet opportunity for Saudi Arabia

Gebran Al-Maliki, owner of a cocoa plantation, says introducing cocoa will help reshape the agriculture sector. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 51 min 59 sec ago

Cocoa bean harvest: A sweet opportunity for Saudi Arabia

  • The Jazan region is known for its lush, green lands and fertile soil that possesses the necessary ingredients to ensure the development of other crops that guarantee continuity and different harvest times for each type of plant harvested in the area

MAKKAH: In an unprecedented experience for the Kingdom, a harvest season of more than 200 cocoa shrubs began this year in Jazan following several years of planting the Filipino seedlings.

The foreign plant is a new experiment for the Kingdom as it plans on testing out the long-term success of planting the favored sweet treat.

Specialists in the region pointed out that the cocoa shrub resembles the famous coffee shrub found in the south region of the Kingdom, where a number of farmers have already begun to evaluate the experience and continue cultivating land to make room for more, while others were not so successful.

The supervisor of the Mountain Areas Development and Reconstruction Authority in Jazan, Eng. Bandar Al-Fifi, said: “The cocoa shrub is a tropical or subtropical shrub and is native to South America and East Asia. It was presented to the Mountain Regions Development and Reconstruction Authority a few years back, specifically to the agricultural research station.”

He added: “The cultivation process was carried out six years ago by bringing seeds and seedlings from the Philippines. The seeds were cultivated and seedlings were distributed to some interested farmers in the region.

“We in the station’s field have cocoa, banana, mango and guava trees, as well as many tropical and subtropical trees. The field is being used as a guarantor of seeds, in addition to conducting tests and real experiments in an area of 200 meters, in particular on 15 cocoa plants and the first cocoa shrub in Saudi Arabia.”

He told Arab News that it was difficult at first to encourage farmers to invest in the plant, as many were hesitant to introduce a plant not indigenous to the region in order to facilitate the establishment of manufacturing factories and grow a local market.

Al-Fifi said that in Ethiopia, companies buy crops from farmers and then start an integrated industrial process of sorting, cleaning, drying and roasting, because to complete the whole process is not economically viable for farmers alone.

“If every farmer owns 30 cocoa shrubs, this will be an additional source of income for their future,” he added.

The Jazan region is known for its lush, green lands and fertile soil that possesses the necessary ingredients to ensure the development of other crops that guarantee continuity and different harvest times for each type of plant harvested in the area. Rainfall is abundant, seasonal fluctuations in rainfall are scarce and humidity is high, ensuring that soil continues to retain the moisture it requires for harvests.

“In addition to the fact that the temperature gap between small and mature shrubs is not big, due to our proximity to the equator, Saudi Arabia is located below the tropical line, which creates environmental conditions that help the shrub grow,” said Al-Fifi.

Gebran Al-Maliki, one of the owners of a cocoa plantation in Jazan, told Arab News: “Adding cocoa to the Kingdom’s agricultural field is one of the innovative things in Saudi Arabia and it began to give good results that would broadly stimulate the development process, provide an agricultural model that can be trusted and improve experience in a country that supports its farmers and provides them with all the required capabilities.”

He received seeds and seedlings by the end of 2016 as an experiment in which everyone was granted support. “Some wanted to give this new experience a try, because it is similar to the coffee plant. It is an ordinary shrub, just like fruit and citrus trees, but it is a drought-tolerant shrub that is watered once a week.”

To successfully cultivate the fruit, Al-Maliki said that shrubs need shade when first planted in the ground as they are “quite finicky,” but that with the proper care and attention, a tree will flower at about three to four years of age and can grow up to two meters in height.

With up to 400 seeds, the product testing began on his farm after just four years.

“You can find 30 to 50 seeds inside a pod, which are later dried under the sun and ground to become a ready-to-use powder. Cocoa powder can be found in chocolate, oils and cosmetics, in addition to several other uses,” Al-Maliki said.

He said that the seed is very bitter and explained that the more bitter, the better the quality. He added that he has four shrubs, and what hindered the spreading process was waiting for the product quality test results, indicating that the fruit was tried and was found very successful.

The agricultural research station for the Development and Reconstruction of Agricultural Areas aim to reach 50 shrubs in the region to provide enough fruit to produce seeds and seedlings for farmers. Al-Fifi said that they aim to reach 400 seedlings per year that will be distributed, on top of seedlings grown by the region’s farmers themselves.