Prince Mohammed’s visit set to deepen Saudi-Egypt ties, open up new vistas of relations

Special For decades, Egyptian and Saudi leadership have collaborated on vital international affairs, such as peace in Palestine and supporting youth. (AFP)
For decades, Egyptian and Saudi leadership have collaborated on vital international affairs, such as peace in Palestine and supporting youth. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 21 June 2022

Prince Mohammed’s visit set to deepen Saudi-Egypt ties, open up new vistas of relations

Prince Mohammed’s visit set to deepen Saudi-Egypt ties, open up new vistas of relations
  • Strong Egyptian-Saudi ties have symbolic and practical significance for the Arab world
  • Visit to forge partnerships and cement economic relations between the two countries

JEDDAH: For decades, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have enjoyed a distinguished relationship. Considered twin pillars, the two nations have consolidated their alliance and cooperation to strengthen their individual and joint regional postures, continuing a tradition of deep-rooted historical ties solidified even further with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s arrival in Cairo on Monday.

Strong Egyptian-Saudi ties have symbolic and practical significance for the Arab world. The two nations have historically regarded one another as important allies to the region, a policy that goes back to May 7, 1936, when Egypt officially recognizing the Saudi state.

The two nations have grown stronger and established close diplomatic ties over the years, overcoming obstacles and differences even during turbulent periods. 

From 1945-46, official state visits by King Abdul Aziz and King Farouk addressed regional concerns, security and stability, topics on the forefront of both state leaders’ agendas, most notably the Palestinian crisis, Syria and Lebanon, the emergence of an Israeli state and strengthening relations between Arab nations with joint interests and benefits.

On March 22, 1945, the Arab League was formed. The voluntary association of Arab states was co-founded by Saudi Arabia and Egypt alongside Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria with its main aims to strengthen relations, coordinate collaboration, safeguard members’ independence and sovereignty, and to provide collective consideration of their affairs and interests. 

Sixteen Arab nations have since joined, and the 22 Arab states follow one unified ethos, “one language, one civilization: 22 Arab countries.”

The Middle East saw serious political turmoils in the 1950s and 60s. The region witnessed the fall of several monarchies, two major wars with Israel, growing concerns of continued tensions and growing ideological divides that threatened the unity of Arab nations. Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s cordial relations were defined by the times. 

King Faisal made his first official visit on Sept. 8, 1965 and the monarch visited Egypt seven times during his rule. As Saudi Arabia was uniquely situated to assume a leadership position in the Muslim world, so too was Egypt in building its military power.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

In 1973, Egypt’s Anwar Sadat supported King Faisal’s oil embargo in protest against the West’s support for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, also known as the Ramadan War. King Faisal in return supported the coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria during and after the war. 

In 1974, King Faisal’s visit further cemented the neighboring states’ relations, touring several cities with thousands of Egyptians flocking to the streets to greet him. Similarly, King Fahad and President Hosni Mubarak saw a prosperous budding relationship that lasted for over two decades. The Saudi king visited Egypt numerous times and it was in 1990 that the unwavering support of Egypt proved essential during an emergency Arab League Summit, led by Mubarak to determine the unified commitment of all members of the league to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.




The historic ties between the two Red Sea nations of Saudi Arabia and Egypt continue to prosper with the crown prince’s Cairo visit. (AFP/File Photo)

The duo would subsequently agree on a multitude of issues, especially on the Palestinian crisis that reached a boiling point in 2000 when another call for an emergency league summit was led by Egypt for a unified stance on Israeli-Palestinian violence. 

It the first summit for Arab leaders in four years. Egypt, a key negotiator with Israel, reminded its fellow members of their duty “to attempt once again to salvage the peace process.”

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah called on leaders to donate $1billion to support the Palestinian uprising and fund projects on Palestinian land. Saudi Arabia would contribute to 25 percent of the support.

King Abdullah continued Saudi Arabia’s strong relationship with Egypt, amid growing interests shared by the the two Red Sea neighbors over maritime security, tourism and development, without the usual competition for power and influence.

His first visit as head of state was to Sharm El-Sheikh in 2008, during which he focused on the conflict in Iraq and the growing threat from Iran’s nuclear program. 




King Faisal (R) of Saudi Arabia, then foreign minister, Egyptian foreign minister Mahmud Fawzi (1952-58) (2nd R) and Syrian prime minister Fares Al-Khoury (3rd R) with other Arab representatives during an Arab League meeting in Cairo in the early 1950s. (AFP/File Photo)

The Arab Spring and its disastrous consequences did not hinder the two nations’ relations. After the ousting of Mubarak and following the brief, turbulent leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, the two nations assumed their strong friendship with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi took power in 2013.

El-Sisi, has been regarded a vital friend to Riyadh, and the representative of an Egyptian state supportive of the regional status quo.

The bilateral relationship has strengthened substantially since then, with Saudi-Egyptian relations increasingly shaped by growing economic ties and joint development projects, enhanced by infrastructure and an investment-friendly climate. 

Over the past four decades, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have established strong economic, social, humanitarian and cultural ties. The Kingdom provides many opportunities for Egyptian labor through legal work visas, and according to Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, 1.8 million Egyptians reside in the Kingdom.

In 2016, King Salman addressed the Parliament of Egypt, and urged unity and alliance. He was the first Arab leader to give such address in Cairo, and the visit also witnessed the signing of 21 agreements and investment memorandums of understanding between the two countries. 

He was named the “great guest” of Egypt, and was granted the Order of the Nile, the country’s highest state honor.




A fan gestures before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 25, 2018. (AFP/File Photo)

“This visit comes as a confirmation of the pledges of brotherhood and solidarity before the two brotherly countries,” El-Sisi said in a televised speech.

An Egyptian-Saudi investment fund was also set up, with a total of $16 billion pumped into Saudi investment projects in several Egyptian governorates. There are approximately 2,900 Saudi projects in Egypt and 1,300 Egyptian projects in Saudi Arabia. The total Saudi investments in Egypt are worth up to $27 billion.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made several visits to Cairo since 2017, highlighting the alliance between the two nations, and a flurry of bilateral agreements and investment project deals have been signed since.

As of 2018, the Kingdom became the second-largest foreign investor, accounting for 11 percent of total foreign investments in Egypt, the volume of which exceeded $6 billion. A $10n billion deal was signed in March of that same year, as Egypt agreed to develop land south of the Sinai to be part of NEOM. 

Egypt’s most critical Saudi investments are in the service sector, including energy, transport, logistics, health, and education. 

The latest support package came just last March, when Saudi Arabia announced a $5 billion aid package deposited in the Central Bank of Egypt.


Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Pakistan mosque

Rescue workers look for survivors under a collapsed roof, after a suicide blast in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Reuters)
Rescue workers look for survivors under a collapsed roof, after a suicide blast in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Reuters)
Updated 39 min 34 sec ago

Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Pakistan mosque

Rescue workers look for survivors under a collapsed roof, after a suicide blast in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Reuters)
  • Saudi Foreign Ministry said it stands by Pakistan in the face of violence, extremism, and terrorism
  • It offered condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Pakistan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia strongly condemned and denounced on Monday a suicide bombing that took place at a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan.

A suicide bomber struck a crowded mosque inside a police compound in Pakistan, causing the roof to collapse and killing at least 47 people and wounding more than 150 others, officials said.

The attack happened during afternoon worship in the provincial capital of Peshawar, close to former tribal areas along the Afghan border.

The Kingdom’s foreign ministry said Saudi Arabia rejects the targeting of places of worship, terrorizing people, and shedding innocent blood.

The ministry said it stands by Pakistan in the face of violence, extremism, and terrorism, regardless of motives or justifications.

The ministry offered condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Pakistan. It also wished the injured a speedy recovery.


Saudi Arabia launches transit visa service for passengers on stopovers

Pilgrims go through passport control upon their arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. (File/AFP)
Pilgrims go through passport control upon their arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 January 2023

Saudi Arabia launches transit visa service for passengers on stopovers

Pilgrims go through passport control upon their arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. (File/AFP)
  • The visa is free of charge, entitles the holder to a four-day stay in the Kingdom, and has three-month validity
  • The transit visa for stopovers allows entry to Saudi Arabia for tourism and pilgrimage purposes

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign ministry launched on Monday an electronic service that will allow passengers stopping over in the Kingdom to obtain an entry visa.

The transit visa for stopovers allows entry to Saudi Arabia for people in transit who wish to perform Umrah, visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and tour the Kingdom.

The new service will be effective as of Monday, and passengers can apply for a transit visa through the electronic platforms of Saudia Airlines and Flynas.

The application will automatically be passed on to the unified national visa platform at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to process. A digital visa will be issued instantly and sent back to the beneficiary via e-mail.

The ministry said the e-Transit visa for stopovers will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by bolstering its position and benefiting from its distinguished strategic location as a link between continents.

The visa is free of charge, will be immediately issued with the traveler’s ticket, entitles the holder to a four-day stay in the Kingdom, and has three-month validity.


Saudi deputy foreign minister receives Commissioner-General of UNRWA

Saudi deputy foreign minister receives Commissioner-General of UNRWA
Updated 30 January 2023

Saudi deputy foreign minister receives Commissioner-General of UNRWA

Saudi deputy foreign minister receives Commissioner-General of UNRWA
  • The pair met at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh, state agency SPA reported

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, received the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Philip Lazzarini on Monday. 

The pair met at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh, state agency SPA reported. 

During the meeting, Al-Kuraiji and Lazzarini discussed areas of cooperation and reviewed the Kingdom’s efforts in supporting the Palestinian people.


KSRelief distributes food aid in Pakistan, Lebanon and Niger

KSRelief distributes food aid in Pakistan, Lebanon and Niger
Updated 30 January 2023

KSRelief distributes food aid in Pakistan, Lebanon and Niger

KSRelief distributes food aid in Pakistan, Lebanon and Niger

RIYADH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) distributed food aid to floods victims in Sindh Province, Pakistan.
The Saudi charity distributed 1,960 food packages, benefiting 13,720 people.
Elsewhere, KSRelief also distributed  3,025 food parcels to Syrian and Palestinian refugees in several Lebanese regions, benefiting 15,125 people.
In Niger, 100 food packages were also distributed, benefiting 768 people.
KSRelief also carried out a project to empower young people to improve the living conditions in Al-Mahrah Governorate, Yemen.
A total of 1,250 young people in eight governorates have benefited from the projects through vocational courses in 11 fields.


Egyptian soprano, Bocelli-Jameel recipient Laura Mekhail charms Jeddah

Egyptian soprano, Bocelli-Jameel recipient Laura Mekhail charms Jeddah
Updated 29 January 2023

Egyptian soprano, Bocelli-Jameel recipient Laura Mekhail charms Jeddah

Egyptian soprano, Bocelli-Jameel recipient Laura Mekhail charms Jeddah
  • In an exclusive interview after the performance, Mekhail told Arab News that receiving the Bocelli-Jameel scholarship at the Royal College of Music was the most amazing experience she ever had

JEDDAH: The second recipient of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship was awarded to Egyptian talent Laura Mekhail in 2021, who enthralled a Jeddah audience with her stunning performance on the Hayy Jameel stage on Jan. 28.

Mekhail is the first Arab woman to receive the scholarship, as the inaugural recipient was French soprano Clara Barbier Serrano.

The Arab soprano performed next to Italian pianist and composer Daniele Ciminiello, who had coincidentally also performed with Serrano last year at the same venue.

Mekhail performed classics by composers such as Mozart and Puccini, and Arabic songs including ‘El Helwa Di’ by Fairuz. (AN Photo by: Abdullah Al-Faleh)

During the show, Mekhail took her audience on a spectacular journey through the history of opera, covering classics by legendary composers such as Handel, Mozart and Puccini, followed by Arabic songs such as “Ana Albi Dalili” by Laila Mourad, and “Sahar El Layali” and “El Helwa Di” by Fairuz. She completed her performance with breathtaking renditions of English songs “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Pure Imagination.”

In an exclusive interview after the performance, Mekhail told Arab News that receiving the Bocelli-Jameel scholarship at the Royal College of Music was the most amazing experience she ever had.

FASTFACT

Laura Mekhail is the first Arab woman to be awarded the Bocelli-Jameel Scholarship in 2021, which was previously awarded to French soprano Clara Barbier Serrano. The Bocelli-Jameel scholarship was established in 2019 with the aim of supporting emerging talents to study opera at the Royal College of Music in London.

“It is truly a dream come true to study at the Royal College of Music. It is now the top school in the world, and it’s not easy to get into. I cannot believe that I am one of the very few people who get to be there and receive this amazing education that will put me on different stages all around the world.”

The same performance also took place at the Kingdom’s cultural and historic destination AlUla at the award-winning Maraya Concert Hall on Jan. 27 where Mekhail performed next to Andrea Bocelli.

She described the thrill of singing with the legendary talent.

“I felt so comfortable. I thought I would be scared or shaky, but he made me feel like it was going to be fine. He encourages and believes in young talent. So, it felt amazing to sing next to him.”

Mekhail discovered her passion for singing during her childhood when she was part of a church choir in Cairo. She has performed at the Cairo Opera House, and the influences on her singing include many Arab musicians, along with Bach and Rossini.

She studied music performance at West Virginia Wesleyan College in the US, where she was a member of the a cappella choir and worked closely with Dan Hughes, the director of Choral Activities, whom she credits for heavily influencing her vocal development.

After graduation, Mekhail taught singing at the Chesterbrook Academy for six years before deciding to pursue a career as a professional soloist.

Mekhail’s performance at the Hayy Jameel stage is the latest development in the rising star’s professional musical career.

The seating arena was fully packed, including the theater balconies. Music enthusiasts from elders to teenagers cheered “Bravo!” after every aria and song.

Mekhail said that the heartwarming response from her Saudi audience energized her to keep singing.

Menwar Azraie, 64, a Saudi educational supervisor in the field of fine arts who attended the show with his wife, told Arab News: “I am a big fan of opera and I always like to encourage young talents. I like to attend opera gigs at the Muse music club here in Jeddah.

“I was invited to attend today’s amazing show by my daughter. I am extremely thrilled as the show perfectly captured the essence of a professional Italian opera, and what doubled my joy was that the show combined Western and Middle Eastern music styles using only the human voice and a piano. It was truly a dose of happiness, and I would love to see more of it.”

His wife Wafa Mustafa said: “I love arts and classical music, and the vibes of today’s performance were absolutely magical.”

The opera scholarship is open to students from around the world. Community Jameel, which supports the scholarship, and Art Jameel, which runs Hayy Jameel, are sister organizations founded by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia.

The Bocelli-Jameel scholarship was established in 2019 with the aim of supporting emerging talents to study opera at the Royal College of Music in London.

Mekhail shared some words of advice for young Arab sopranos and classical singers in the region.

“You have to be persistent in your dream because it is not easy to be a classical singer, especially if you live in the Middle East,” she said. “And even if you go abroad and try to achieve that dream, it is really hard and competitive as there are very, very few Arab people in the international community. Do not be frustrated. Just be persistent. Keep following your dream. I promise you are going to get there.”