Egypt's president visits staunch ally United Arab Emirates

AP News
Posted: May 03, 2017 5:48 PM
Egypt's president visits staunch ally United Arab Emirates

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Egypt's president began a two-day visit Wednesday to the United Arab Emirates, a staunch ally that has provided billions of dollars in aid to his country's ailing economy and unwavering support for Cairo's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a show of solidarity, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was greeted upon arrival to Abu Dhabi with a 21-gun salute.

The UAE's state-run WAM news agency said Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and el-Sissi discussed the war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition that includes Emirati and Egyptian troops is fighting Iranian-allied Shiite rebels.

They also discussed Libya's political turmoil. El-Sissi's visit overlaps with UAE-brokered direct talks underway in Abu Dhabi between two rival Libyan leaders. The talks are an attempt to further sideline Libya's Islamist politicians, which Egypt and the UAE view as a potential threat.

WAM said the two leaders additionally exchanged views on Syria and consulted about ways to address terrorism. Egypt is struggling to contain attacks by the Islamic State movement and other militant groups, including two devastating bombings at churches last month.

Sheikh Mohamed, who sees an ideological ally in el-Sissi, "reiterated the UAE's support for Egypt ... due to its strategic and historic importance in the Arab world," according to the WAM statement.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, supported el-Sissi's rise from army general to president of Egypt in 2014 and his lethal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after its ouster from power. All three countries are wary of Islamist groups in the region and have labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

El-Sissi's visit to the UAE comes less than two weeks after his meeting with King Salman in Saudi Arabia.

Egypt and the UAE also share deep economic ties. There are hundreds of Emirati businesses in Egypt. Among the most prominent is real estate developer Emaar, which has large projects in Cairo and along Egypt's Mediterranean coast. There is also an upscale neighborhood of villas in the suburbs of Cairo named after Sheikh Zayed, the first ruler and founder of the UAE.

The UAE is the largest foreign investor in Egypt, with $6.2 billion worth of investments, according to an Egyptian official quoted in WAM. Egypt's exports to the UAE reached $2.4 billion while its imports from the UAE topped $885 million.