Egyptian president’s visit to Saudi Arabia to return balance to region: analysts


Saudi Arabia welcomed with open arms the first Egyptian president elected after the January 25 revolution when he visited Jeddah on Wednesday, the Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, was the first to greet President Mohammed Mursi who was accompanied by a delegation of senior officials.

Mursi’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes after more than three weeks of his becoming the new president. Observers described this visit as a sign of the strength of Saudi–Egyptian relations, and a real commitment on Egypt’s part of wanting to build a new future in the region after a difficult year, especially since Egypt represents a strong political presence, along with the Saudi kingdom, as they are two active poles of balance in the Arab region.

President Mursi, who met King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz at the Royal Court in al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, described the talks between both sides as encouraging and fruitful.

The Iranian courtship with Saudi Arabia

Dr. Fahd Khuraiji, professor of political media at King Saud University, said Mursi’s visit to Saudi Arabia took place in a timely manner and amid special circumstances. He told Al Arabiya that both nations have special relations and an old strategic partnership. The political outcome of this visit was shown in the recent statement of the current chairman of the parliament of Iran, which can be described as flattering for the Kingdom.

Khuraiji added that “Saudi - Egyptian relations were not affected by anything. They are old and strong relations, and the Egyptian president’s statement prior his visit about the security of the Gulf is an honest reflection on the strength of relations between the two countries. This visit will bring back balance to the region since both are active in regional peace projects.”

Later on Wednesday night, the Egyptian president held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Salman on some economic and political issues. They discussed Saudi investment in Egypt and how to give more opportunities for Egyptian workers in the kingdom.

Egyptian sources stated that Crown Prince Salman suggested increasing the visits between officials and businessmen from both countries to enable them to discuss various projects and strengthen communication.

Economic cooperation

Saudi investments in Egypt are estimated at about $27 billion. According to Egyptian sources, Mursi pledged to remove obstacles that Saudi investors may be facing in Egypt and work to resolve their cases quickly, expressing his care to create an attractive environment for investments in Egypt.

Hassan al-Subhi, the managing editor of economic op/eds in the Saudi newspaper al-Madina believes that Mursi’s visit to Saudi Arabia gave a boost to Saudi investors in Egypt. He said told Al Arabiya: “The new Egyptian president’s plan to revive his country’s economy represents a resilient catalyst for Saudi investors in Egypt to increase their investments, especially with the engagement of the Egyptian president in the maintenance of security and stability of these investments.”

Subhi added: “The economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Egypt is long-standing and a part of this cooperation includes granting opportunities for Egyptian workers which represents an adjacent market providing the booming economic Saudi market, with trained and professional workers in various fields, especially since the Saudi market still requires more workers in the handicrafts and construction field.”

President Mursi ended his first night in the Kingdom by heading to Mecca and performing Umrah. The Governor of Mecca province, Prince Khalid al-Faisal received Mursi upon his arrival and a group of Egyptian expats lined up in the arenas of the Grand Mosque to greet their new president.

Back to Egypt

The Egyptian newspapers highlighted yesterday special headlines related to this visit, including political statements for Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi after his meeting with Saudi King. These statements listed that Saudi Arabia supports the doctrine of the Sunnis and the Jemaah Islamiah, and that Egypt protects it. The Egyptian president said that Saudi Arabia and Egypt represent the modern Sunni Islam, and added that the Saudi leadership and people, were always in the heart of Egypt and vice versa, adding that Saudi Arabia has always been loyal to Egypt.

The Egyptian President concluded his visit to Saudi Arabia, by a meeting with the Egyptian community, in the Egyptian consulate in Jeddah, in a gathering attended by more than 500 people representing different segments of the Egyptian sectors. The meeting focused on supporting the investment of the Egyptian community in Egypt, particularly regarding the agricultural and reclamation projects, and the cultivation of three million acres in the Northern Coast and Upper regions as well as the Western Sahara and Sinai.

President Mursi then went to Medina to visit the Prophet's Mosque to offer prayers there, before leaving to Egypt at five p.m.

He is scheduled to travel next Sunday to Ethiopia to attend the African summit to be held in Addis Ababa.