The emir of Qatar arrived in Cairo late Friday for talks with the President of Egypt. His first visit to the country after years of strained relations and a boycott of Doha by four Arab states, including Egypt.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was welcomed at the airport by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, a courtesy reserved for leaders of heavyweight allies. The visit comes ahead of President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East. According to a statement released by the Egyptian president’s office, the two leaders will discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations. They will also discuss common regional and international concerns.
Investment of $5 billion in Egypt
The emir’s visit came less than two months after his government announced a $5 billion investment in Egypt. By providing another lifeline to the country’s economy, which has suffered as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman made the announcement during a visit to the country in March.
Egyptian-Qatari relations deteriorated in 2013. When Egypt’s military deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who had received Qatari support, and cracked down on his Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar’s capital, Doha, eventually became a safe haven for fleeing Egyptian Islamists. The state-owned Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera Television took a firm stance against el-government. Sissi’s
Egypt joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain in a boycott of Qatar in 2017. It’s an attempt to pressure Doha to change its policies. There was a broad trade embargo, a ban on Qatar-bound flights from their airspace, and a media blitz. They urged Doha to sever ties with Turkey, Iran, and Islamists throughout the region.
Qatar rejected the quartet’s demands. It included the closure of its Al Jazeera news network, the expulsion of a small contingent of Turkish troops from its territory. Also, the severing of ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. It also denied the quartet’s claims that it supports extremists.
Partnerships with Washington
The boycott pushed the gas-rich country closer to Turkey and Iran, while Doha also strengthened ties with Washington. The schism was finally bridged in 2021. It happened when Qatar signed a declaration to normalize relations with the four countries. Since then, relations have improved, and top officials have visited each other.
El-Sissi also met with the emir in November, on the sidelines of the Glasgow climate change summit. Also, most recently in February, when they both attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Photographs of the two from the events showed them warmly shaking hands, indicating a rekindled relationship.