News / Middle East

    Egypt's Morsi to Make Saudi Arabia His First Foreign Visit

    In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt Ahmed Kattan meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, July 7, 2012.
    In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt Ahmed Kattan meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, July 7, 2012.
    Margaret Besheer
    CAIRO - Egypt's new president Mohamed Morsi will make his first overseas trip to Saudi Arabia.  Analysts say his choice of a strong Sunni Muslim country with deep pockets is significant.

    President Morsi will visit the conservative Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday where he is expected to meet with King Abdullah as well as visit the holy city of Mecca where he will perform Umrah - a form of Muslim pilgrimage that can be performed any time during the year.

    Under Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt had close relations with Saudi Arabia, and political analyst Hisham Kassem says that is likely to continue.

    "They [the Saudis] will be very interested in maintaining good relations with Egypt as they did with Mubarak. It is in everyone's interest," said Kassem.

    Unemployment is high in Egypt and chairman of the Jeddah-based Gulf Research Center Abdulaziz Sager says encouraging Saudi Arabia's private sector to invest in Egypt is likely to top Morsi's agenda.

    "I am sure he wants to attract them again to continue their investments in Egypt and to assure them of the stability and the political stability in Egypt," said Sager. "At [the] same time, also if he can increase the sort of export of manpower from Egypt to Saudi Arabia that will help, because the remittances from Egyptian laborers to Egypt in Saudi is quite significant also."

    Sager says Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to show serious economic support for Egypt, committing more than $4.5 billion to the country. Saudi Arabia is also a major shareholder in the Islamic Development Bank, which signed a $1 billion cooperation agreement last week with Egypt to support its food and energy sectors.

    Hisham Kassem says Morsi, who was a long-time member of the Muslim Brotherhood, may also see in Saudi Arabia a potential lender with similar Islamic values.

    "Given Morsi's political persuasion and aversion to international monetary institutions, I think he will try and get basically Islamic-backed economic backing, as opposed to other monetary institutions, that they might consider dealings with them to be anti-islamic or usury," said Kassem.

    From Saudi Arabia's perspective, analysts say the Saudis see their investments as contributing to political stability in Egypt as well as potentially off-setting Shi'ite Iran's creeping influence in the Middle East.

    President Morsi also plans to travel to the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa next Sunday.

    Abdulaziz Sager says Egypt used to have strong relations with Africa and President Morsi is looking to reinforce those ties. Egypt, which shares the Nile River with eight other countries, also needs good relations so it can negotiate important water issues with its African neighbors.

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    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 09, 2012 5:35 AM
    This visit to Saudi Arabia is just not to betray his hunger for Iranian-type revolution, otherwise his first trip would have been Iran to team up with Ahmadinejad against their common enemies. Maybe he will still make other trips elsewhere to mask his desire for this, but somehow we learned of his immediate reach out to the people of Iran first thing after his election victory. Action really speaks louder than voice: nothing born of a snake will ever grow vertical! All the noise about hajj is diversionary.
    In Response

    by: Iran is a Farce from: Iran
    July 09, 2012 8:22 AM
    Godwin, its not the PEOPLE of iran he is looking to align Egypt with... but its the barbaric Iranian Islamic regime that oppress, rape, mutilates us every day. and I agree with Robert (UK), its very hard to trust anyone now days in Iran... you simply don't know who is informant of the Islamic regime and the punishment is very harsh... believe me.

    by: Persian
    July 08, 2012 6:08 PM
    It is funny that an Iranian news Agency, Farsnews, close to the Revolutionary Corps, claimed that they have interviewed Morsi and he insisted that he will travel to Iran first and not to Saudi Arabia! They insisted the interview was genuin despite the fact that Egypt denied the interview!!!
    In Response

    by: Robert Morgan from: UK
    July 09, 2012 7:02 AM
    why are you surprised...??? lying is a genetic affliction of Iranians... they lie not to gain and look foolish later, but because its in their genes... the really ugly secret is that Iranians do not trust themselves about anything...

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