Al Galala Seaport: The Egyptian conflict zone between Qatar and Emirates

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Days ago, Cairo received the Qatari Prince, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in his first official visit to Egypt since 2015 and after the rupture of diplomatic relations during the Gulf crisis between 2017 and 2021. The Qatari Prince met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He discussed the mutual ties between the two countries in various fields, particularly the investment opportunities in Cairo and the regional happenings concerning both countries.

Al-Sisi described Tamim’s visit as a vital step toward developing the relations between the two countries. At the same time, the Qatari Prince tweeted that he made an exchange with the Egyptian president about promoting joint Arab cooperation to achieve development, stability and regional security. After the Qatari Prince’s departure, Emirates’ foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived, accompanying Mohamed Hassan al-Sweedy, CEO of Abu Dhabi Holding. According to the spokesman of the Egyptian presidency, the meeting was to promote mutual relations, especially regarding increasing Emirati investment in Egypt, particularly in energy, transport, seaports and tourism.

Qatar targets Al Galala

Egyptian sources added the Qatari Prince’s visit involved a well-paid offer from Doha to acquire the Al Galala project, which Qatar dreams of making the largest seaport and free zone in the Middle East. Al Galala is a plateau overlooking Suez Bay of the Red Sea. In 2016, al-Sisi made a presidential order to establish an international seaport in the area supervised by the ministry of defence, while the minister of transport is authorized to make necessary procedural processes related to the presidential order.

Sources told Egypt Watch that Qatar made a $10 billion deposit in the Central Bank of Egypt as a goodwill gesture and made more significant investments over the upcoming period. The Egyptian cabinet had already announced concluding deals of Qatari investments worth $5 billion. Earlier, the Egyptian minister of transport, Kamel al-Wazir, visited Doha and toured Hamad International Port declaring joint projects between Egypt and Qatar in the ports field. And last Month, Al-Wazir said the government is to establish a holding company for the most significant seven seaports in Egypt to offer them in the stock exchange market publicly. The seven seaports are Alexandria, Damietta, East and West Port Said ports, Arabia, Sokhna and Safaga.

Emirati fears

The Qatari interest in Al Galala disturbed Emirates, has Ali Mountain port south of Dubai, a large commercial and business hub vital for the Emirati economy. Concerned with preserving Ali Mountain from the competition, Emirates offered to acquire all Egyptian ports on the Red Sea to control the entire navigational lane. Official sources told Egypt Watch that Abu Dhabi attempted to use Egypt’s critical economic situation to acquire the Red Sea ports. Still, Egypt refused the Emirati offer yet did not accept the Qatari one in order not to annoy Emirates, which has deep relations with the current Egyptian regime.