Cairo — Egypt gave a warm welcome to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday, with military fanfare and a trip to the Suez Canal meant to underline a growing partnership.
It is the first trip abroad for the 32-year-old Salman since he became heir to the Saudi throne and vowed to modernize the Kingdom.
In Egypt, posters featuring Salman alongside President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi lined major roads in central Cairo, where Salman will later visit the main Muslim and Christian institutions and see a performance at the Cairo Opera. He will travel to Britain and the United States later this week.
The prince and el-Sissi travelled through one of the new tunnels being built under the canal, before boarding a boat from a red-carpeted dock as an army band played marching music. He later cut the ribbon at a ceremony to inaugurate a nearby army-built resort.
Egypt seeks investment from oil-rich Saudi Arabia to help develop the area, where Cairo wants to establish an international transport, logistics and production hub. On the first day of the three-day visit, the two signed agreements on common investment funds and environmental protection, the Saudi news agency SPA reported.
The leaders are also expected to discuss the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, as well as their joint boycott of tiny Gulf nation Qatar, which they accuse of fomenting extremism across the region.
Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest, tightened their longstanding alliance after el-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013, with Riyadh providing tens of billions of dollars in aid.
The two countries have plans to build a causeway across the Red Sea and to jointly develop areas on both sides.