An unbreakable bond of brotherhood
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Republic of Egypt are neighbors connected, rather than separated, by the Red Sea.
It was this geographical proximity and close brotherhood that created the conditions for the first diplomatic contact between the two nations, a historic visit to the ancient land of Egypt by the leader of the newly unified Kingdom.
In 1945, it was Egypt that was chosen as the destination for the first overseas visit by the great King Abdulaziz, who, having accomplished the great task of unifying the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, turned his attention to shaping the foreign policy of the country.
In February 1945, King Abdulaziz boarded a US warship at Jeddah for the 1,200 kilometer voyage up the Red Sea and along the Suez Canal to a rendezvous with history.
There, he met then US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, laying the groundwork for a relationship between East and West that has endured and flourished in the decades since.
While in Egypt, King Abdulaziz also met Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill, who was as keen as Roosevelt to claim the new and burgeoning Saudi Arabia as his country’s friend and ally.
But the trip was most notable for it being the first foreign meeting of King Abdulaziz, since unifying our country, with a foreign dignitary, King Farouk.
King Abdulaziz’s visit to Egypt and his meetings created a foundation between three major countries: Egypt, the US and UK. The three countries were playing major roles at that time, and have continued to grow and expand to include the international community worldwide.
Throughout the subsequent decades, the golden thread of brotherhood and friendship woven by King Abdulaziz and King Farouk has been passed from generation to generation of Saudi kings and Egyptian leaders, who have worked to evolve, expand and strengthen a relationship between the two countries that today sees cooperation in many different fields.
The history of the relationship between the two countries has witnessed major events, which at the time were regarded as great challenges for both countries. Yet, with great mutual political will, these regional and international challenges have always been faced together.
Together, they have always worked for peace, security and the stability of all the countries in the region, and for Arab and Muslim nations serving the international call under a mutual and unified vision for peace, security and prosperity.
Since those early days, and throughout the long friendship between the two countries’ leaders, right up to the reign of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, relations between the two nations have always been characterized by significant development and steady growth, on both the official and the grassroots levels.
During our time we are witnessing the development of the relations to an unprecedented level of strategic partnership between the two countries, forged by exchange visits, summits, meetings and cooperation agreements.
Embracing all aspects of the political, economic, commercial, cultural and educational fields, the relationship between the two countries is a unique example of successful joint Arab working relations.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Cairo on Monday to meet President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is an extension of an uninterrupted path of strategic cooperation and consultation.
The crown prince described the relations of our two countries: “The Saudi-Egyptian relationship has been solid, well established and deep rooted throughout history. It is a stable relationship that has not been affected by any variables. Throughout history, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have always stood together in all circumstances and at all times, and this has never changed.
“There was no negative attitude towards Saudi Arabia by the Egyptian government, and not a single negative attitude towards Egypt by the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have never hesitated to stand by each other.”
The observer of Saudi-Egyptian relations perceives a uniquely friendly and brotherly aspect that prevails in leaders’ meetings and surpasses conventional political and diplomatic relations — a closeness based on cultural and civilizational roots, and kinship, that brought the two peoples together.
That was the cornerstone upon which the relationship was built and has endured for generations, and upon which it shall persist.
The first state visit between the two leaders was in 2016, when King Salman met President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo.
It was a historical meeting for several reasons. First, both leaders had assumed their responsibilities within a short period of time — El-Sisi became president in June 2014, and King Salman ascended to the throne in January 2015 — and during a period when the region faced a period of unprecedented turmoil in the region, and instability that threatened its peace and security.
In many ways, King Salman’s visit to Egypt in 2016 marked a paradigm shift in the relations between the two countries — a change of gear, as it were, fueled by deep-rooted popular political will, accelerating cooperation and investment growth between the two countries.
On that occasion, more than 17 agreements, memorandums of understanding and protocols were signed between the two nations during the king’s visit, which promoted the volume of agreements to 70 in all, therefore upgrading the level of the relationship to a strategic one that covers all areas of cooperation to include all sectors, taking into consideration that both countries are evolving each under their respective 2030 Vision.
That visit was followed by another major visit from the Kingdom, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as part of his first official trip as crown prince, met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Egypt. Cairo was the crown prince’s first stop on a tour that also took him to the UK and the US.
Together, and with the close involvement of the crown prince, both countries have worked to achieve regional security and stability, drawing on the deep roots of friendship and cooperation forged by their forebears, which have reached an extraordinary level.
This week’s visit is another waypoint on the two countries’ journey of brotherhood — a diplomatic celebration, as it were, of the hard work that has always continued behind the scenes as both sides strive to maintain political stability in the region.
In so many ways, the Kingdom and Egypt are one country and one people, linked by ties of brotherhood, friendship, love and intermarriage, and the crown prince’s visit cements and celebrates the bonds that have grown only stronger throughout the years.
- Osama Ahmed Nugali is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt.