Egypt’s president praises UAE seeking to heal Gulf aid rift – KGET 17

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi praised the United Arab Emirates on Monday, seeking to mend the rift between Cairo and the Gulf Arab states that have given his nation billions of dollars in aid.

El-Sissi has relied on aid from Gulf Arab states to keep his country’s economy afloat since taking power in a 2013 coup, with estimates suggesting that more than $100 billion of Gulf money has gone to Cairo through Central Bank deposits, fuel aid and other support since then.

But in recent weeks, Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, have begun to signal that they want to see more reforms from their aid recipients — especially as nations around the world grapple with inflation and the fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine. That would likely hit Egypt, which is already under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to reform.

“We used to give direct grants and deposits without strings attached and we are changing that,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. “We need to see reforms. We tax our people. We expect others to do the same, to put in their efforts. We want to help, but we also want you to do your part.”

In Kuwait, at least one lawmaker has begun raising questions about the billions loaned to Egypt and whether any of those funds have been repaid. Although UAE leaders have not publicly commented on their aid packages, they also have their own development plans and are being asked to deliver aid to earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria.

Earlier this month, an article in Egypt’s state-run Al-Gomhorya newspaper argued that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have no right to criticize the Egyptian government’s handling of its economy.

“Those barefoot and naked, who recently wore the most luxurious clothes, should not invade Egypt,” wrote editor Abdel Razek Tawfiq. “Countries whose age does not exceed the age of my youngest son have no right to speak of Egypt except with politeness, respect and reverence.”

The article later disappeared from the newspaper’s website, but an internet firestorm erupted over the column.

El-Sissi spoke before the World Government Summit in Dubai at a session attended by UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The Egyptian president began his remarks by recognizing the two rulers as his “brothers”.

El-Sissi, on stage at the summit for what was billed as an interview with a journalist, launched into a monologue praising the UAE and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for his help after the 2013 coup.

“The first thing to highlight is the support I received from our brothers,” el-Sissi said. “Everything I’ve said wouldn’t have been possible without the support we’ve received.”

He did not directly address the controversy surrounding the newspaper column, although he made an elliptical reference to the dispute near the end of his comments.

“The reality can be different from what we see in the media or what we hear from politicians … even when it’s the politicians who think they’re in control,” el-Sissi said. “Be sure to thank God for the generosity we have received.”

Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat, tweeted after El-Sisi’s appearance: “Egypt, as usual, is loyal to its brothers and their views. In President Sisi’s speech, recognition of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was present.”

The Egyptian government plans to sell stakes in dozens of state-controlled companies, including banks and energy companies. However, Egypt’s government and military dominate the economy of the Arab world’s most populous country, worrying investors.

Egypt, meanwhile, is allowing its Egyptian pound to devalue, and the currency has fallen nearly 50% in the past year. The country is also facing a foreign currency shortage that is exacerbating its problems and forcing it to postpone major projects.

El-Sissi, an army general, led the ouster of then-President Mohammed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. His government has cracked down on dissidents and critics, jailing tens of thousands, effectively banning protests and monitoring social media.


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