Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed wel­comes Egyptian Pres­i­dent

▶ The two coun­tries have been close since the time of the Found­ing Fa­ther, Sheikh Zayed, writes James Lang­ton

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - THE NA­TIONAL

Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed wel­comed a “good friend” from a “great coun­try” yes­ter­day as Egypt’s pres­i­dent em­barked on a two-day state visit to the UAE.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed Forces greeted Ab­del Fat­tah El Sisi as he ar­rived in the cap­i­tal yes­ter­day.

Sheikh Mo­hamed met Mr El Sisi at the Pres­i­den­tial Flight Ter­mi­nal at Abu Dhabi In­ter­na­tional Air­port, along with a high-level del­e­ga­tion of min­is­ters and se­nior of­fi­cials.

They in­cluded Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of In­te­rior, Sheikh Man­sour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of Pres­i­den­tial Af­fairs, and Dr Sul­tan Al Jaber, Min­is­ter of State.

In a brief stop at the air­port’s VIP Lounge, Sheikh Mo­hamed and the pres­i­dent en­joyed cor­dial talks about the fra­ter­nal ties bind­ing their na­tions.

Mr El Sisi’s most re­cent trip to the UAE was in Fe­bru­ary last year.

The two coun­tries have main­tained close ties over re­cent years, work­ing to­gether on key is­sues such as the fight against ter­ror­ism.

“I wel­come the guest of a great coun­try, a good friend, Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El Sisi,” Sheikh Mo­hamed posted on Twit­ter.

“The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the UAE and Egypt is his­toric and strate­gic, and we have a com­mon will to strengthen and de­velop them to serve our two coun­tries and peo­ple.”

The pair are due to dis­cuss the “broth­erly re­la­tion­ship” be­tween the two coun­tries and ways to strengthen co-op­er­a­tion, state news agency Wam re­ported.

Sheikh Mo­hamed fol­lowed up on a visit to Cairo in Au­gust last year with trips to Egypt in March and May this year.

Mr El Sisi, a for­mer gen­eral and Egyptian de­fence min­is­ter, was elected pres­i­dent in 2014.

The bonds of friend­ship be­tween Egypt and the UAE go back to be­fore the found­ing of the Emi­rates. Umm Kulthum, the most fa­mous singer the Arab world has yet pro­duced, flew to Abu Dhabi from Cairo only a few days be­fore the seven emi­rates be­come a na­tion on De­cem­ber 2, 1971, for a se­ries of con­certs.

As a to­ken of his ap­pre­ci­a­tion, Sheikh Zayed, the Found­ing Fa­ther, pre­sented the woman known as Kawkab Al Sharq, or “Star of the East”, with an an­tique neck­lace of Ara­bian Gulf pearls. Only a few days later, as the UAE was of­fi­cially ad­mit­ted to the UN in New York, Egypt was among the first coun­tries to recog­nise the world’s new­est na­tion.

“The gov­ern­ment of the Arab Repub­lic of Egypt is cer­tain that the new Arab broth­erly na­tion will con­trib­ute to the march of the Arab na­tion to­wards its wel­fare, dig­nity and pros­per­ity,” Cairo said at the time. The warmth of that re­la­tion­ship be­tween one of the old­est and one of the new­est Arab coun­tries has been re­cip­ro­cated many times.

Sheikh Zayed met Egypt’s pres­i­dent, An­war Sa­dat, in Cairo in 1970 and again in 1971. He strongly sup­ported Egypt in the 1966 war with Is­rael and again in 1973, when Sheikh Zayed called Sa­dat to ad­vise him that all of the UAE’s re­sources had been placed at his dis­posal.

That year, the UAE Pres­i­dent re­ceived a rap­tur­ous re­cep­tion on another visit to Cairo for the in­au­gu­ra­tion of a suburb of Ismailia, a city on the Suez Canal badly dam­aged by con­flict.

Built with UAE sup­port, it was named af­ter Sheikh Zayed, as was Sheikh Zayed City on the out­skirts of Cairo, where build­ing be­gan in 1995.

In 1976, Sa­dat flew to Abu Dhabi seek­ing fi­nan­cial aid, with the UAE also help­ing to bro­ker an end to Egypt’s iso­la­tion in parts of the Arab world as a re­sult of its ne­go­ti­a­tions with Is­rael that would lead to the 1979 peace treaty.

For­mal sup­port from the Abu Dhabi Fund for De­vel­op­ment be­gan in 1974. It noted in its most re­cent re­port that Egypt re­ceived Dh4 bil­lion in loans and grants from the fund – or man­aged on be­half of the UAE gov­ern­ment – for 20 projects, with an em­pha­sis on agri­cul­ture. By 2009, Cairo ranked the UAE as the lead­ing for­eign gov­ern­ment in­vest­ing in Egypt, af­ter Pres­i­dent Sheikh Khal­ifa sent a mil­lion tonnes of wheat in 2008 as gift to re­lieve rising food prices.

The coun­try is con­tin­u­ing to give po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sup­port to Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El Sisi.

Re­la­tions be­tween the UAE and Egypt have strength­ened un­der Mr El Sisi, with both coun­tries shar­ing con­cern and ac­tion over crit­i­cal is­sues in the re­gion, in­clud­ing Qatar’s sup­port for ter­ror­ism, the threat from ex­trem­ist groups such as ISIS and Iran’s in­ter­fer­ence.

Dur­ing talks in Cairo in 2016, Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed Forces, de­scribed Egypt’s “piv­otal role”.

In the past year, Sheikh

Mo­hamed has made sev­eral vis­its to Egypt. In March, the Crown Prince em­barked on a two-day state visit when he toured the re­sort city of New Alamein, one of sev­eral mega projects to boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Dur­ing another of­fi­cial visit in May, Sheikh Mo­hamed sum­marised what is now nearly a half cen­tury of friend­ship and co-op­er­a­tion.

“It is a re­la­tion­ship that is evolv­ing, deeply grounded in his­tory and serves the in­ter­est of the two coun­tries and their peo­ple,” he said.

The UAE and Egypt share con­cerns over crit­i­cal is­sues in the re­gion, in­clud­ing Iran’s in­ter­fer­ence and the threat from ex­trem­ists

Ha­mad Al Kaabi – Min­istry of Pres­i­den­tial Af­fairs

Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed Forces, wel­comes Ab­del Fat­tah El Sisi, Pres­i­dent of Egypt, at the Pres­i­den­tial Flight Ter­mi­nal in Abu Dhabi Air­port

Ha­mad Al Kaabi / Min­istry of Pres­i­den­tial Af­fairs

Above, Egyptian Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El Sisi with Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed Forces, at the Pres­i­den­tial Air­port in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day.Right, Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum with Found­ing Fa­ther Sheikh Zayed in 1971. Sheikh Zayed pre­sented her with an an­tique neck­lace of Ara­bian Gulf pearls

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