News Analysis: Egyptian president's visit to Qatar gives impetus to deepening ties

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by Marwa Yahya

CAIRO, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) — Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s state visit to Qatar, the first made by an Egyptian president in four years after the diplomatic rift between the two Arab countries, has added strong impetus to deepening the bilateral relations, experts said.

His two-day visit, which came upon an invitation by the Qatari emir, ended on Wednesday, reflecting that the two countries are keen to consolidate the rapprochement into cooperation in a wide range of fields since diplomatic relations were restored in January 2021, according to the experts.

Leaders of the two countries discussed ways to foster closer cooperation and deepen the relations in trade, economy and investment, in addition to Arab regional and international developments.

They also witnessed the signing of three cooperation agreements respectively in investment, social affairs, and ports, according to Egypt’s Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Rady.

“The visit is part of recent moves for warming ties after quite a long time of frayed relations,” said Tariq Fahmy, professor of political sciences at Cairo University.

In January 2021, the Arab quartet of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain signed the Al-Ula Declaration with Qatar, ending their all-around boycott of Doha since mid-2017.

In response, Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited Cairo in June. In late March, Cairo and Doha agreed to invest 5 billion U.S. dollars in Egypt.

Fahmy told Xinhua that the emir’s visit was vital since it expressed good intentions and a willingness to promote closer ties, which was much-needed in the Arab region facing challenges.

He added during the past year, a follow-up committee formed by the two countries to develop the recently-resumed ties held seven rounds of talks.

According to the Egyptian analyst, Sisi’s visit to Doha made in the run-up to the Arab League summit scheduled in November in Algeria shows Cairo and Doha have kept each other well-informed of stances, such as the consensus on conflicts in Libya and the Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip, and made adjustments if necessary.

“Egypt is strongly present in terms of the Gulf’s security,” said the analyst, noting Egypt and Qatar along with other Gulf states need to work together to fight against the repercussions of security developments and risks in the region.

As to one of the three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed in Doha, Waleed Gaballah, an Egyptian economic expert, said “the deal between the two nation wealth funds is an executive measure to start pumping already-planned Qatari investments to Egypt.”

Gaballah called for a clear implementation roadmap for the Qatari investment to arrive in the Egyptian markets.

“Regional integration is indispensable to overcome economic woes,” Gaballah said, calling for a clear roadmap for the Qatari investment to arrive in the Egyptian markets.

The expert said that regional cooperation is an important part of the solutions that Egypt has been seeking to counter its economic challenges compounded with the impact of the Ukrainian crisis.

He added that high-level exchanges, including state visits, will push the economic ties forward. Enditem