President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt held talks Saturday with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who visited Cairo for the first time in years.
The talks focused on ties between the two nations and a set of other regional and global topics, including US President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East in July, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.
Both leaders agreed to develop mutual cooperation, especially in the energy and agriculture sectors, and boost Qatari investments in Egypt, the statement said.
Al Thani arrived at the Itihadiya presidential palace in Cairo for talks with al-Sissi. Both leaders inspected an honor guard and bands played the national anthems of Egypt and Qatar, a livestream of the welcoming ceremony posted by the Egyptian presidency showed.
Egypt’s state-run al-Ahram daily reported that the talks aim at ensuring the “full normalization” of ties between the two nations after resuming their relations early in 2021.
Citing an unnamed source, the newspaper said the two countries would sign agreements to boost Qatari investments in Egypt’s battered economy.
During the visit, an Egyptian-Qatari business council met with the aim of improving trade and investments between the countries. Qatar announced in March the investment of $5 billion in Egypt’s economy, which was hit badly by the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea was in Doha last week for talks with Qatari officials on promoting trade and investment between the two nations. She met with Mansour bin Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud, head of the Qatar Investment Authority, to discuss its financing projects in Egypt, according to an Egyptian statement.
Energy-rich Qatar is a major source of investment in Egypt, focusing on the real state and oil sectors, including the building of a $1.3 billion luxury hotel on Cairo’s Nile Corniche. Qatar Petroleum also held a major stake in a $4.4 billion refining firm.
Qatari investment would be another lifeline for Egypt’s economy, which is under pressure amid an inflationary wave triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which hiked oil prices to record highs. Other Gulf monarchies have in recent months announced billions of aid and investments in Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world.
The visit came ahead of Biden’s July 13-16 Middle East trip, which will include stops in Israel, West Bank and Saudi Arabia. Both al-Sissi and Al Thani will attend a Saudi Arabia-hosted summit with the American president. The summit will include the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iraq and Egypt.
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