Saudi King gives the nod for Saudi-Egypt Bridge
Saudi King Salman announced his plans to build the long-delayed bridge from Saudi to Egypt, over the Red Sea, expressing his support for the government of Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He added that connecting both the countries through the inter-continental bridge would also transform the trade between the two continents. President Sisi suggested naming the bridge as 'King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge'.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt
Cordial relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt are believed to have existed since the earlier regimes, several centuries ago. During the 19th and 20th centuries, relations turned sour due to the Ottoman–Saudi War, Arab Cold War, Egypt's ties with Israel and fighting for power in Arab-world. In 2012, both the countries had reconciled shortly after some protests related to Saudi Embassy Lock-up in Cairo.
Saudi backs Egyptian coup, hails Sisi-led coalition
In 2013, protests emerged in Egypt demanding the then-President Mohamed Morsi's resignation due to his increasing authoritarianism and pro-Islam agenda, which disregarded the secular rule of law. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the then-Army chief, led a coalition to remove the only democratically-elected President, following which Chief Justice Adly Mansour was appointed as the interim president. Several Arab nations backed the coup, especially Saudi Arabia.
Saudi King positioned himself as Sisi’s ally
The then-Saudi King Abdullah had made several donations in support of Sisi when he ousted Mohamed Morsi of Muslim Brotherhood Movement party. After becoming the President, Sisi thanked him for his tremendous support during his first speech in 2014.
Saudi King’s special five-day Egypt visit
The King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz, in his first visit to Egypt since becoming the monarch, had reached Egypt as a part of his five-day visit. Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of Egypt, stated that the visit represents the special relationship Saudi shared with Egypt. During the tour, Saudi was expected to focus on the financial, political and security issues faced by Egypt.
King Salman to deliver historic speech
The Egyptian Government stated that the Saudi King Salman would deliver a speech in the Egyptian Parliament on 10 April 2016. It added that preparations were underway for the historic special Parliament session.
Inter-continental bridge delayed for long
The idea of the building the inter-continental bridge had floated several times before, especially during the Presidentship of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. But, the bridge had never passed the planning stage.
How does the bridge aid Saudi and Egypt?
Annually, thousands of Egyptians visit Saudi Arabia for the Muslim pilgrimage or employment purposes in the oil-rich kingdom, and vice versa. So, the bridge would aid the tourism, trade and transportation departments of not only the two countries but, also the two continents. Following the announcement of the bridge, officials of both the nations have signed 17 investment deals and MoUs worth $1.7 billion.