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Meeting the royals
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 11 - 05 - 2017

On 8 May President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi arrived in Bahrain where he was met by King Hamad bin Eissa Al-Khalifa. A day earlier the Egyptian president was in Kuwait, on 3 May in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and in late April in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Sisi's tour of Gulf countries was aimed at bolstering mutual relations and finding common ground in addressing regional challenges, including terrorism and foreign interference in Arab states.
Talks with the Bahraini monarch included a discussion of ways to promote greater unity among Arab states as Al-Sisi stressed the urgent need for more cooperation between Arab capitals.
According to Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef, the visit to Bahrain focussed on fostering economic and security cooperation.
“Both parties talked about regional developments. They discussed the importance of reaching radical solutions in conflict areas including Libya and Syria,” said Youssef.
Al-Sisi's visit to Bahrain concluded with King Hamad bin Eissa presenting him with the Order of Sheikh Eissa Al-Khalifa, the highest Bahraini decoration, in recognition of efforts to increase cooperation between the two countries and unite the Arab people.
In Kuwait Al-Sisi met with Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and the Director-General of the Kuwaiti Fund for Development Abdel-Wahab Al-Bader.
After an official reception Al-Sisi and Al-Sabah met at the Bayan Palace where they discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations on all levels. Both sides stressed the need to prepare for the upcoming meeting of the Egyptian-Kuwaiti Joint Committee which is charged with bolstering the framework for cooperation across a variety of sectors.
They discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest. There was an alignment of views over the need to enhance joint efforts to combat terrorism and the importance of preserving the territorial integrity and state institutions of countries in the region which are currently suffering armed conflict.
Al-Sisi said Egypt looked forward to stepping up bilateral relations across all areas in a manner that will realise the common interests of the two countries. Egypt, he added, will never accept any compromise on the security and stability of its brothers in the Gulf.
“The security of the Gulf is the security of Egypt. Egypt will always stand by its brothers in Kuwait and the Gulf in the face of any regional or external threat,” he said.
Kuwaiti Emir Al-Sabah underscored the special nature of Egyptian-Kuwaiti relations, their common history and shared future.
“Egypt and its people hold a special place in the hearts of the people and government of Kuwait, particularly in light of Egyptian efforts over the decades to counter the challenges and threats facing the Arab world,” said Al-Sabah.
“Egypt's pivotal role is the cornerstone for the security and stability of Gulf countries and for the entire Arab world.”
Al-Sabah stressed his country's commitment to enhancing bilateral relations on all levels.
Al-Sisi responded by stating: “Egypt's leadership and people appreciate the positions taken by Kuwait, under the leadership of Sheikh Al-Sabah, in support of the will of Egyptian people. Egyptians will never forget these positions which reflected the true meaning of brotherly relations.”
During his stay in Kuwait Al-Sisi met with Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah who lauded Cairo's economic reforms and affirmed Kuwait's keenness to activate the Joint Egyptian Kuwaiti Committee which is scheduled to convene in November to examine ways to enhance economic cooperation and trade.
Al-Sisi also met with Marzouk Al-Ghanim, the speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, and a number of Kuwaiti MPs. He praised Kuwait's democratic reforms and underlined the important role the National Assembly plays in enriching political life in Kuwait.
In his meeting with Abdel-Wahab Al-Bader, the director-general of the Kuwait Fund for Development, Al-Sisi reviewed Egypt's economic reform programme, including measures to improve the business and investment climate, and briefed his hosts on the government's measures to mitigate the impact of economic reforms on the neediest sectors.
“We are looking forward to further boosting cooperation with the Kuwait Fund for Development,” said Al-Sisi.
Al-Bader said the Kuwaiti Fund remained committed to supporting Egypt and providing funding for development projects. He reviewed projects currently being undertaken which are jointly funded by Kuwait, the majority of them in infrastructure development, including electricity and water desalination. He commended Egypt's bold economic reforms and confirmed that the Kuwait Fund for Development would work to further strengthen cooperation with Egypt.
The meeting also addressed prospects for future cooperation, particularly in Sinai.
Al-Sisi praised the role of the Kuwaiti Economic Cooperation Council, established in November 2015, in enhancing economic relations between Egypt and Kuwait and emphasised Cairo's commitment to continuously engage with Kuwaiti investors to remove obstacles they face. He underscored the importance of the private sector in fostering economic cooperation and offered an overview of national projects currently being implemented in Egypt, including the Suez Canal Development Zone.
During his trip to the UAE Al-Sisi met with Abu Dhabi's ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. The ongoing crises in Syria, Yemen and Libya topped the agenda, alongside terrorism and foreign attempts to tamper with the security and stability of Arab countries.
Sheikh Bin Zayed confirmed the UAE's support for the Egyptian people and their aspirations for stability and development. Egypt's stability cannot be separated from wider regional stability, he said, before noting that Al-Sisi's visit demonstrated the vital relations between the two countries and their leadership's keenness on coordinating over issues of mutual interest.
Al-Sisi reviewed ongoing development projects, with a focus on new cities and infrastructure, including energy and transportation. In this context it is worth mentioning that the Egypt Property Show, which took place between 5 and 7 May in Dubai, offered a host of investment opportunities in Egypt's new cities.


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