The Egyptian-Qatari relations have witnessed a significant improvement recently, after years in which the concerns of the two countries ranged between estrangement and apathy. Senior Egyptian officials, including President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, were keen to court Qatar and praised its role in the region. At the same time, Doha announced its intention to invest billions of dollars in Egypt. The Sisi regime believes that improving relations with the wealthy Gulf emirate will make it an essential source of funds that it desperately needs to face the stifling economic crisis that the country is going through due to wrong economic policies, high food and energy prices globally and the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on foreign exchange flows to Egypt.
The Egyptian Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, met, a few days ago, the Qatari foreign and finance ministers, in Cairo, on the second visit since the restoration of diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries in January of last year, after Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain signed the Al-Ula Declaration of Reconciliation with Qatar, after the boycott that lasted about three and a half years. The Egyptian government announced that it had been agreed with the Qatari side to invest $5 billion in Egypt during the coming period and establish a joint high committee headed by the two countries’ foreign ministers, with the aim of continuous consultation and strengthening cooperation and coordination in all fields.
Al-Sisi also met with the Qatari delegation, which also included the head of the Qatari State Security Service, at the Republican Palace, in the presence of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the head of the General Intelligence Service, Major General Abbas Kamel, in what seemed to be a meeting to put points on the relationship between the two countries during the coming period. During the meeting, Sisi stressed the link between Gulf security and Egyptian national security, praising the “important role played by the State of Qatar in facing the challenges facing the Arab nation,” and asked the Qatari delegation to “transmit his greetings to his brother Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,” which are Expressions were not used between the two countries during the past years.
According to governmental sources, the Qatari delegation discussed the return of Al-Jazeera to work from Cairo during the next few months, after political and security understandings about its coverage of Egyptian events, provided that “Egyptian Security” is a direct partner in choosing the channel’s staff and head of the office in Cairo. In parallel, Qatar Energy Company signed an agreement with ExxonMobil to acquire 40% of the offshore exploration area off the northern coast of Egypt. ExxonMobil retained about 60% of the exploration and exploration rights.
Finding new sources of cash
Egypt is going through a stifling economic crisis these days for several reasons, including the rise in food and energy prices and the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on tourism revenues and foreign portfolio flows. Non-productivity did not generate actual returns for the country. The regime seeks to find new funding sources in light of its growing need for foreign exchange and the decline in financial support from its traditional allies. Improving relations with Qatar is one of the solutions it seems to be pursuing.
The regime hopes that the Doha authorities, which also want to improve their relations with Egypt, will extend their hand generously to support the economy by injecting significant investments and perhaps financial aid represented by providing low-interest deposits to the Central Bank of Egypt to help its foreign exchange reserves.
The policy of the Sisi regime towards Doha confirms that it is a pragmatic regime looking for its interests wherever it is. After Qatar was one of Egypt’s most prominent enemies since the military coup in 2013, it was cursed day and night in newspapers and television channels. Egypt participated in its boycott for about four years. It became a “sister” country. And his prince is a “brother” as long as that will bring money that will maintain the regime’s stability.