Egypt’s el-Sisi arrives in Doha on first trip since GCC crisis

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Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha as the two countries aim to boost ties.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has arrived in Doha on his first visit to the Gulf nation since the 2017 GCC diplomatic crisis.

El-Sisi met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the airport on Tuesday on the first day of the two-day visit as the two countries aim to boost ties.

Discussions on bilateral ties are expected to take place, including rectifying a tumultuous relationship and investment opportunities.

Cairo had joined Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, the UAE and Bahrain, in cutting ties with Doha in June 2017 after accusing Doha of supporting “terrorism” – a charge Qatar has denied.

The dispute ended in 2021, when Qatar signed a declaration with the four to normalise relations. Since then, ties between Doha and the four Arab states have improved, and top officials have exchanged visits.

Egypt has been courting the gas-rich nation as it faces economic hardships, particularly a shortage of food supplies in the wake of the Ukraine war.

In late March, Cairo said Qatar planned to invest $5bn in Egypt, while hydrocarbon giant QatarEnergy announced an agreement with US major ExxonMobil to acquire a 40 percent stake in a gas exploration block off Egypt in the Mediterranean.

In this photo provided by Egypt’s presidency, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, right, accompanies Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on his arrival in Doha [Egyptian Presidency Media Office via AP]

The Qatari Emir visited Cairo in June when Qatari investments in cash-strapped Egypt were on the agenda, as well as cooperation in the energy and agriculture sectors.

About 350,000 Egyptians work in Qatar and send hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances home annually.

The ties between Cairo and Doha soured following the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

But amid a rush of diplomacy over the last year, the countries have changed course. The two countries have since exchanged ambassadors and resumed direct flights first time since 2017.

Egypt and Qatar have also coordinated on Gaza Strip reconstruction. They helped broker a ceasefire following a three-day deadly offensive by Israel in August.

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