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)
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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.

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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.


Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women

Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women
Updated 24 September 2022

Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women

Community of Adidas Runners bids to empower Riyadh women
  • The group brings together people from various walks of life and uniting them with the goal of becoming a better version of themselves

RIYADH: As the sounds of Fajr (early morning) prayers are heard in Riyadh, the sun still submissive to the night sky, you will find a group of women around Wadi Hanifa every Wednesday, pounding a path for anywhere between 4 and 8 km.

Adidas Runners is an international community of joggers and runners that brings together people from various walks of life, uniting them with the goal of becoming a better version of themselves.

Their women’s-only group creates a safe space for individuals to empower each other to achieve their aspirations.

The runners see the 4 a.m. wake-up call as a small price to pay for the experience, given the health benefits and friendships it brings them.

Asma Azhari, 31, has never considered herself the consistent athletic type. From mindful yoga to swimming sessions and breezy bike rides, she wanted to try it all and never committed to just one discipline. Only in June 2021 did she discover the Adidas Runners community.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Asma Azhari, 31, has never considered herself the consistent athletic type. From mindful yoga to swimming sessions and breezy bike rides, she wanted to try it all and never committed to just one discipline. Only in June 2021 did she discover the Adidas Runners community. The thought of a women’s-only running club intrigued her, but the first steps toward commitment were discouraging.

• Another member, Hadeel Ashour, told Arab News: ‘I don’t think that if I started off running on my own in public, I would be as motivated and persistent in the sport as I am today.’ Ashour, 23, had been physically active for years, but a year on from discovering Adidas Runners, she has found that her training helps to complement her participation in CrossFit (interval training) and cycling.

• Club member Nourah Alshehri, 38, told Arab News: ‘I’m ecstatic for all the wonderful positive transformations in my country and the justice that women have obtained in various fields. I am very fortunate to have experienced fair regulations and laws that guarantee freedom for everyone without harming anyone or anything.’

The thought of a women’s-only running club intrigued her, but the first steps toward commitment were discouraging.

“I felt like dying,” she said. “It was my first run and I thought, ‘I am not cut out for this sport.’ But after a few months I tried again, and committed even though it was way out of my comfort zone. And here I am now, a runner,” she told Arab News.

While she began her journey barely completing the 4K run, Azhari is now training for her first 21K trail race. She aims to participate in a full international marathon next year.

What kept her coming back every week was the community surrounding the running group. She said: “The people, the spirit, the energy, the commitment that everybody shows every single morning before sunrise, and of course the love and support everyone is getting, all of these aspects helped to get me into running. I’m loving it.”

On a personal level, running has benefited her by laying the groundwork for discipline in many aspects of her life, including work and family. It has also done much for her physical and mental health. “Sports should be accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age and ethnicity,” she said.

Another member, Hadeel Ashour, told Arab News: “I don’t think that if I started off running on my own in public, I would be as motivated and persistent in the sport as I am today.”

Ashour, 23, had been physically active for years, but a year on from discovering Adidas Runners, she has found that her training helps to complement her participation in CrossFit (interval training) and cycling.

She said: “I generally love outdoor sports and activities that give me a sense of community. Running for me was a beautiful combination of both these things.”

While the health benefits of running are plenty, including better sleep and eating habits, Ashour emphasized the mental profits of the exercise.

For her, running has helped cope with anxiety, build patience and create consistency in many aspects of her life.

She added: “I started running in a stage of my life when I was most vulnerable and unconfident. Running has liberated me from these negative feelings and restored my confidence in myself.”

The group is working toward creating the first-ever women’s training program to run a 5K, starting on Oct. 22 and free to all women in Riyadh.

Ashour is now planning to take part in her first Riyadh 10K, but has set her sights even higher.

She said: “My goal now is training to run the 20K distance in the Tuwaiq Hope Trail Race in November. In the far future, I hope to run full marathons and ultra-marathons both locally and internationally, and aid in expanding the community in Riyadh.”

Like Azhari, Ashour found a home within the running community, which changed her perception of women running in public.

She added: “I had the pleasure to meet strong and influential fellow runners who never failed to push me forward and explore my limits.

“Though the number of women runners is not that big, the presence and persistence of the few makes a big difference. We women are unstoppable when we run together.”

Club member Nourah Alshehri, 38, told Arab News: “I’m ecstatic for all the wonderful positive transformations in my country and the justice that women have obtained in various fields.

“I am very fortunate to have experienced fair regulations and laws that guarantee freedom for everyone without harming anyone or anything."

 The first-ever women’s-only race will take place on Dec. 24 in pursuit of creating a safe and healthy running culture for all in Riyadh.

 


Global Islamic Refugee Fund launched with $100m deposit

KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner sign an a cooperation agreement. (SPA)
KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner sign an a cooperation agreement. (SPA)
Updated 24 September 2022

Global Islamic Refugee Fund launched with $100m deposit

KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner sign an a cooperation agreement. (SPA)
  • The fund will help millions of refugees and displaced persons and their host communities around the world

NEW YORK: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, recently represented the Kingdom at the launch ceremony of the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees.

The fund is supported by UNHCR and the Islamic Development Bank’s Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, with an initial amount of $100 million, on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In his speech, Al-Rabeeah expressed his happiness about the fruitful partnership between UNHCR and IDB to help millions of people around the world who are forcibly displaced, by offering constant support for refugees and displaced persons and their host communities.

HIGHLIGHT

The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development has donated $50 million to the endowment account, while the UNHCR has donated $50 million to the nonendowment account, as an initial capital to launch this initiative with $100 million. The fund also aims to raise additional capital of $400 million as a minimum target by allowing donations from people wishing to contribute.

He noted the importance of strengthening collective action and partnership to better respond and develop innovative, sustainable and comprehensive solutions, in line with the 17th sustainable development goal.

Al-Rabeeah said that the Kingdom was optimistic about UNHCR and IDB’s partnership, which embodies the values of humanity, justice and equality in developing innovative solutions for the refugee crisis.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Amid an increasing number of crises around the world, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation region accommodates the largest number of refugees in the world; we are all aware and fulfill our responsibility by providing all the refugees and displaced people’s needs to lead a safe, healthy and decent life.”

He said that the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees “would help us achieve this humanitarian objective, and given the significant economic challenges the world is facing and due to the limited donor base, this is the best time to present innovative ways to increase the funding modalities.”

Al-Rabeeah said that Islam encourages charitable work, that zakat is the duty of all Muslims who are capable of donating, and that this was the best time to establish the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees. He indicated that the success of this fund relies on the participation of authorized partners and project-based funding, with a transparent monitoring process.

Addressing the needs of refugees and displaced people in the OIC region is an example of zakat and charitable funding, he said, wishing the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees success.

The Global Islamic Fund for Refugees is to be a financing tool for refugees, in compliance with the provisions and principles of Islamic Shariah.

This fund consists of an endowment and nonendowment account to receive and invest donations, in accordance with Islamic financing’s principles. The revenue is deposited in a trust account to fund the response programs for refugees, displaced people and their host communities in the IDB member states.

The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development has donated $50 million to the endowment account, while the UNHCR has donated $50 million to the nonendowment account, as an initial capital to launch this initiative with $100 million.

The fund also aims to raise additional capital of $400 million as a minimum target by allowing donations from people wishing to contribute.

 


Twitter replaces ‘Like’ emoji with Saudi flag on 92nd National Day

Photo/Saudi Press Agency
Photo/Saudi Press Agency
Updated 25 September 2022

Twitter replaces ‘Like’ emoji with Saudi flag on 92nd National Day

Photo/Saudi Press Agency
  • To mark the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day, the GEA launched the largest program in the history of the country’s national day celebrations

RIYADH: The chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh, said on Friday that social networking site Twitter had replaced its “Like” emoji with the flag of Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day — the first time it has done so for a country’s National Day.

Al-Sheikh called on those wishing to express their love and pride for Saudi Arabia to use the hashtag #Hey_Lana_Dar92.

HIGHLIGHT

The chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh, called on those wishing to express their love and pride for Saudi Arabia to use the hashtag #Hey_Lana_Dar92.

To mark the Kingdom’s 92nd National Day, the GEA launched the largest program in the history of the country’s national day celebrations.

Saudis and expatriates alike marked the occasion of Saudi Arabia’s National Day with music, singing, dancing, a naval parade in Jeddah and a family carnival in Riyadh.

The GEA’s program for the celebrations includes hundreds of events, shows and recreational activities across the Kingdom, all under the theme “Hey Lana Dar.”

 


Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah

Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah
Updated 24 September 2022

Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah

Saudi crown prince meets Turkish officials in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday received the Turkish presidential spokesman, Dr. Ibrahim Kalin, and Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Nureddin Nebati at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.
Kalin conveyed greetings from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to King Salman and the crown prince.
During the meeting, they reviewed aspects of bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of developing them in various fields, in addition to discussing cooperation on a number of issues of common interest.


Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges

Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges
Updated 24 September 2022

Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges

Saudi foreign minister says Kingdom is optimistic despite challenges
  • Real optimism in the Kingdom says Saudi FM

NEW YORK CITY: There is a real optimism in Saudi Arabia despite the obvious challenges faced around the globe, foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan told delegates at the FII Priority Forum in New York on Thursday.

He was responding on Thursday to the “Future Investment Initiative Priority” report, which surveyed 130,000 people from 13 countries about the things that mattered most to them.

The FII Priority report asked if people thought their lives were headed in the right direction - most people globally said they were.

But when the question became wider, people in nations such as the UK, USA and France, became more skeptical about the state of their countries and the world generally – while Saudi’s remained positive.

“There is a real optimism in the kingdom despite the challenges that we face,” the minister said.

 

 

The report found that Saudi’s led the way in feeling positive about their country, only being beaten in their optimism for the state of the world – coming third to China and India.

The upbeat attitude of Saudis didn’t stop there. Asked if they believed their country would be better in the future – a confident 61 percent in the Kingdom said they did – second only to 80 percent in China.

“We are in a difficult neighborhood. We are needing to improve many things in our economy in our country, but we are working very hard at it and that hard work is paying off we are seeing results every day being delivered.”

The report also found that Saudis were very ambitious, looking at work as a means to improve themselves, rather than simply pay the bills.

And while more than half of Americans were looking to quit their jobs – dissatisfied with their current situation, the vast majority of Saudis were planning for their future career and looking to help build their nation.

“If we all did the same if we all put our minds to it and worked hard, we can build a better future,” the minister explained.

He said that youth engagement in the Kingdom was at an “all time high.”

“You go to anywhere,” he added. “You know, private sector or public sector. The youth are really who are leading. It’s the same in my ministry.”

“The youth are the ones the younger generation are the ones that are pushing us.”

And in a nod to the approximate 300 percent increase in women the workforce, he said: “So, there is an optimism, even in a challenging environment without the best resources, you can still build.”

“If you set your mind to it. If you have a leadership that is committed to it, then you have a collective will to do it. So you just need the will.”

The FII Institute is a product of the Future Investment Initiative that was set up in Saudi Arabia by the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.