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
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
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
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