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The New Arab

Cairo, Riyadh sign $16 billion deal during crown prince visit

Relations were briefly strained in late 2016 over differences related to the Syrian war [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 March, 2018

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Saudi Arabia and Egypt have agreed to establish a multi-billion joint fund to develop a mega-city during a visit by the Saudi crown prince to Cairo.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have signed an agreement to establish a multi-billion joint fund to develop a mega-city during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Cairo.

The crown prince signed the 60 billion Saudi riyal ($16 billion) memorium of understanding on Sunday, while meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hours after landing in the Egyptian capital, Saudi daily Arab News  reported.

The official Saudi Press Agency  said the leaders had signed two other deals on "environmental protection and pollution reduction".

Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said they had discussed "the challenges facing the Arab world, which at the forefront are terrorism and states that support it".

A Saudi official told Reuters that Cairo has committed more than 1,000 square kilometres of land in the southern Sinai Peninsula for the NEOM mega-city and business zone.

The powerful crown prince arrived on Sunday for a three-day visit meant to deepen the alliance between two of the region's powerhouses ahead of presidential elections in Egypt.

A beaming Sisi greeted the prince at Cairo airport after he descended the red-carpeted steps of his plane.

On Monday, bin Salman will visit Pope Tawadros II - the head of Egypt's Coptic church.

Saudi Arabia has given generous financial and political support to Sisi since he led the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Relations were briefly strained in late 2016 over differences related to the Syrian war.

Egypt is a member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen.

Last year, Sisi ratified the handover of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, triggering rare protests in Egypt.

On Saturday, Egypt's top court dismissed all legal challenges to the 2016 deal that would transfer Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

Presidential elections in Egypt are due between 26 and 28 March - Sisi is almost guaranteed to prevail after all major contenders were sidelined or jailed by the government.

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