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Qatar to invest USD5B in Egypt as ties improve

CAIRO (AP) – Qatar will invest USD5 billion in Egypt, officials said on Tuesday, signalling increasing improvement in ties between the two nations.

The announcement came as Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani wrapped up a visit to the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other government officials.

An Egyptian statement said the USD5 billion package is meant to “strengthen economic and investment cooperation between the two brotherly countries”.

The statement didn’t provide further details, including a timeframe for the investments. Qatar’s state-run news agency also reported the development.

Egypt’s economy 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.

The war has also impacted the vital tourism sector, as most foreign visitors to the country’s Red Sea resorts have come from Russia and Ukraine. Egypt is also the world’s largest importer of wheat, most of it coming from Russia and Ukraine.

People crowd a street in Cairo, Egypt. PHOTO: AP

Al Thani, who is also Qatar’s deputy prime minister, arrived in Egypt on Monday in his second visit since Egypt and three Gulf nations ended a diplomatic dispute with the energy-rich country last year.

He was accompanied by Finance Minister Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari.

El-Sisi, who met with the Qatari ministers on Tuesday, hailed “the tangible progress in the course of Egyptian-Qatari relations”, according to the Egyptian leader’s office.

The Qatari officials also met on Tuesday with Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly and Finance Minister Mohammed Moait. The prime minister’s office announced the investment agreement.

Qatar’s previous investment in Egypt has focussed on the real state and oil sectors, including the building of a USD1.3 billion luxury hotel on Cairo’s Nile Corniche.

Qatar Petroleum held a major stake in a USD4.4 billion refining firm, according to the state-run Al-Ahram daily.

In a joint news conference on Monday with Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry, Al Thani said Qatar’s ties with Egypt were improving “after we overcame the previous period, which was marred by some tensions”.

A declaration in January 2021 ended a diplomatic crisis that began in 2017 with a rift between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on one side and Qatar on the other. The four countries had jointly boycotted Qatar and hoped an embargo and media

Since the dispute ended, ties between the five countries have improved and top officials have exchanged visits. Al Thani visited Cairo in May and met with el-Sisi. The Egyptian leader also met twice with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani – once in November on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Glasgow and most recently in February when they attended the opening of the Olympic winter games in Beijing.