In a move signaling an improvement in the relationship between the two countries, Qatar will invest USD 5 billion in Egypt, according to government sources.
The agreement was announced on Tuesday following a visit to Cairo by Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. During his visit, Al Thani met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other government officials.
Strengthening economic ties
A statement by the Egyptian government claimed that the USD 5 billion investment was intended to “strengthen economic and investment cooperation between the two brotherly countries”. No further details were supplied on the nature, or timeframe of the investments. While no official details were provided by the government, QatarEnergy released a statement announcing an agreement with ExxonMobil to acquire a 40-percent interest in a gas exploration block off Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea.
Al Thani, who also holds the position of Qatar’s deputy prime minister, arrived in Egypt on Monday. The visit marked the second time he has visited the country since Egypt and three other Gulf nations ended the long running economic blockade of Qatar last year. Al Thani was accompanied by Finance Minister Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari.
The Qatari delegation also met Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Finance Minister Mohamed Moait. The prime minister’s office announced the investment agreement. El-Sisi, met the Qatari officials on Tuesday, and hailed “the tangible progress in the course of Egyptian-Qatari relations,” according to his office.
Qatar’s previous investments in Egypt have focused on the real state and oil sectors, most notably the building of a $1.3bn luxury hotel on Cairo’s Nile Corniche. Qatar Petroleum held a major stake in a $4.4bn refining firm, according to the state-run Al-Ahram daily.
Qatar and Egypt’s relations improving
Monday saw a press conference held alongside Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, where Al Thani said that Qatar’s ties with Egypt were improving “after we overcame the previous period, which was marred by some tensions”.
The diplomatic crisis and accompanying economic blockade was ended by a meeting in January 2021. The crisis began in 2017 and was represented by a rift between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on one side and Qatar on the other. The four countries imposed a blockade on Qatar and hoped an embargo and media pressure would pressure the leadership to end its close relations with Turkey and Iran.
Following the end of the dispute, relations between the five countries have improved and top officials have exchanged visits. Al Thani previously visited Cairo in May and met with el-Sisi. El-Sisi has also met twice with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in recent months.
The impact of Corona and the Ukraine conflict
Egypt’s economy is currently suffering from an inflationary wave triggered by the Corona pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has caused oil prices to surge and caused serious concern over the country’s wheat supplies, most of which is imported from Ukraine. Russian and Ukrainian tourism to the Egypt’s Red Sea resorts has also all but dried up.