El Sisi visit at­tests to solid UAE-Egypt ties

▶ The UAE’s part­ner­ship with Egypt is piv­otal to the re­gion’s eco­nomic well­be­ing and safety

The National - News - - OPINION -

Astrength­en­ing of “broth­erly re­la­tions”: that’s how Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed Forces, de­scribed the two-day state visit of Egyptian Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El Sisi, who ar­rived in the UAE cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day. The visit cul­mi­nated in Mr El Sisi be­ing be­stowed with the Or­der of Zayed, the UAE’s high­est civil­ian hon­our, and the two shak­ing hands on a $20 bil­lion (Dh73bn) joint in­vest­ment fund to de­velop eco­nomic and so­cial pro­grammes in both coun­tries.

Mr El Sisi’s visit to the UAE is the lat­est in a se­ries of UAE-Egyptian meet­ings that at­test to the long-stand­ing friend­ship be­tween the two Arab coun­tries. In the past year alone, Sheikh Mo­hamed has paid sev­eral vis­its to Cairo, and Mr El Sisi has vis­ited Abu Dhabi twice in less than two years. The UAE and Egypt are both di­verse na­tions that share the same lan­guage and many cul­tural ties. This bond pre­dates the cre­ation of the UAE. When Sheikh Zayed marked his fifth an­niver­sary as Ruler of Abu Dhabi in Novem­ber 1971, two days be­fore the emi­rates be­came one coun­try, the guest of hon­our was the “Star of the East”, the leg­endary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, who flew to Abu Dhabi for a se­ries of con­certs. She was given an an­tique neck­lace of Ara­bian Gulf pearls by the new pres­i­dent.

The two Arab na­tions also have deep so­cial ties, with 400,000 Egyp­tians choos­ing to make the UAE their home away from home. The close-knit Egyptian com­mu­nity has helped build this na­tion from its very early days. Not only is its con­tri­bu­tion to the UAE vi­tal to the econ­omy, it also adds to the rich diver­sity of the coun­try.

The UAE’s sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port for Egypt has been equally vi­tal to the Arab na­tion, which has been faced with many chal­lenges over the years. A decade ago, the UAE emerged as the lead­ing for­eign gov­ern­ment in­vest­ing in Egypt. Un­der Mr El Sisi, those ties have grown stronger. Since last year, the UAE has held train­ing pro­grammes for Egyptian gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees to im­prove their per­for­mance and help achieve the goals of Egypt Vi­sion 2030, an ini­tia­tive that aims to im­prove in­clu­siv­ity and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The UAE’s part­ner­ship with Egypt in­volves a num­ber of strate­gic in­ter­ests that are piv­otal to the re­gion’s eco­nomic well­be­ing and safety. Mr El Sisi’s visit saw the sign­ing of a host of agree­ments, in­clud­ing the Dh73bn fund. In ad­di­tion to eco­nomic and cul­tural ties, the na­tions share a com­mon goal of eradicatin­g ex­trem­ism and fight­ing ter­ror­ist groups, such as ISIS and the Mus­lim Brother­hood, which have plagued the Arab world for too long. But fight­ing ter­ror also means look­ing af­ter those whose lives have been scarred by ex­trem­ists and the UAE has shown it is will­ing to lend a help­ing hand when tragedy strikes. Sheikh Mo­hamed do­nated more than Dh11 mil­lion to re­build a cancer hos­pi­tal in Cairo that was dam­aged by a ter­ror­ist at­tack in Au­gust, killing 20 peo­ple. Such acts of kind­ness can only fos­ter deeper ties be­tween the two na­tions, which have un­doubt­edly reached new heights over the past two days.

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