In his first international visit since taking office, Egyptian president Mohamed
Mursi said his talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah had been “fruitful” and
had covered bilateral relations, Gulf security and Syria, the Saudi Press Agency
reported on Thursday.
Though the news agency provided few details about
the discussions between the two leaders, it cited Mursi as praising King
Abdullah for showing “wisdom, love and knowledge of the Egyptian
Mursi said that the stability of the region depended on that of
Egypt and the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, however, both
the Saudi and Egyptian press reported Thursday that Cairo’s much-needed economic
ties with the oil-rich kingdom were also high on the agenda for Egypt’s new
president during his Saudi visit.
Egypt needs ties with Saudi Arabia to
help overcome its economic difficulties. After the Egyptian revolution last
year, Riyadh pledged a $4 billion assistance package, in the form of long-term
loans and grants, to assist Egypt in propping up its failing
Saudi Arabia has also offered additional assistance, including
$1b. to Egypt’s Central Bank, according to MENA, Egypt’s state news
Meanwhile, the Saudi Okaz newspaper on Thursday cited an
interview with Egyptian Planning and International Cooperation Minister Dr.
Faiza Aboul-Naga, who said that Cairo placed great importance on its relations
with Riyadh – again noting the significant aid package Saudi Arabia had given
Egyptian Foreign Trade and Industry Minister Mahmoud Issa also
told the Saudi paper that Mursi’s visit was a “significant milestone in the
history of the special relationship” between the two countries, adding that
Egyptian-Saudi trade was very important to his country.
Issa said Mursi
wanted Saudis to invest more in Egypt, adding that Cairo would provide
assurances and security for Saudi investors.
Meanwhile, the Saudiowned,
London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper said Thursday that Mursi intended to
discuss the issue of facilitating investment procedures for Saudi businessmen in
Egypt, including government support for small and medium projects.
his short trip to Saudi Arabia, Mursi also focused on Egyptian expatriates in
Saudi Arabia, and the contribution they could make to Egypt’s
Dr. Said Yahya, president of the Board of Directors of the
Egyptian community in west and south Saudi Arabia, told Asharq Alawsat that
Mursi’s visit would cement the foundations of understanding between the two
Approximately 1.5 million Egyptian expatriates work in Saudi
Arabia, and – significantly – many voted for Mursi in Egypt’s presidential
On Thursday, Mursi called for Egyptian expatriates to
invest in their homeland.
Speaking at a meeting in the Egyptian Consulate
in Jeddah with Egyptian nationals living in Saudi Arabia, the newly elected
president said that worldwide there are around 10 million Egyptians living and
Mursi reassured the Jeddah delegation, which included
Egyptian businessmen, academics and doctors, that “the doors are open for safe
The audience chanted slogans in support of Mursi, according
to Egyptian daily Al- Masry Al-Youm, including “Lift your head up, you’re
Egyptian” – the chant of victory in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian
In an editorial on Wednesday, the paper said Mursi’s choice
of Riyadh for his first official visit was highly significant, particularly in
the wake of the Arab Spring, because it signified that Mursi’s foreign policy
strategy was to further Egypt’s national security and strategic interests,
regardless of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology.
The Gulf states,
including Saudi Arabia, have expressed fears about the Brotherhood’s growing
influence in Egypt.
Earlier this year, Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan
Tamim accused the group of plotting to take over Gulf states.
visit could convince the Saudis that Egypt can play a vital role in the region,
and that a strategic partnership between the two countries would curb Iran’s
regional aspirations, Al-Masry al-Youm said.
Saudi Arabia severed ties
with Cairo in 1979, when Egypt signed the Camp David peace accords with Israel.
The two countries restored diplomatic relations in 1987 and enjoyed close ties
during former president Hosni Mubarak’s time in office.
relations between Cairo and Riyadh were tested in April after Egyptians
protested the detention of Egyptian human rights attorney Ahmed Mohammed
al-Gizawi in Saudi Arabia. The protests let to Saudi Arabia announcing the
closure of its embassy in Cairo and its consulates in Alexandria and
The newly elected Egyptian president’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes
even as the exact extent of his powers remains unclear, and amid a struggle with
Egypt’s judges and the military over the Islamist-dominated lower house of
parliament. In a move last month that was strongly opposed by the Brotherhood,
the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued a decree dissolving the lower
house of Parliment, after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that a third of
MPs had been elected illegally.
After Mursi decided Sunday to reconvene
parliament, the court said that it holds “exclusive jurisdiction over the
constitutionality of laws.” On Wednesday, before his Saudi visit, Mursi said he
would negotiate with other wings of government on the matter.
later on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency reported that after his meeting with
King Abdullah, Mursi visited Mecca in order to perform the Umrah pilgrimage.
Unlike the Haj, which must be undertaken at a specific time, Umrah can be
undertaken at any time of year.