Our king’s presence in Egypt to attend the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC), this week, is a clear display of the strong ties that Egypt and Bahrain enjoy; and of Bahrain’s commitment to contribute to Egypt’s stability and growth.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi had invited His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to speak at this conference which aims to put Egypt back on the world map as a prime investment destination – after 4 years of political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.
The King appreciated the Egyptian President for inviting him to “such a crucial strategic economic gathering” originally called for by the late Saudi Monarch King Abdulla bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and then supported by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud his successor.
“We did not hesitate to answer this invitation, fully aware of our national and fraternal duties towards Egypt,” said our king reiterating Bahrain’s resolve in participating with Egypt, in its renewed developmental process.
The solidarity in the region is visible from the fact that in this conference, the Gulf Arab nations have announced a $12.5 billion aid package to Egypt.
And, by Sunday, the final day of the three-day conference, a further $10.7 billion was pledged by other investors.
Billions of dollars in agreements are also supposedly signed with Germany’s Siemens AG or Italy’s Eni SpA on Saturday, but the details are still not out.
Even the Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has announced that his family will invest as much as $3 billion this year in his country’s energy sector
So, I think, this EEDC – attended by more than 2,000 delegates from 112 nations including executives of multinational companies and heads of state – held at Sharm Al Sheikh, the Red Sea resort, obviously, has had those highly positive outcomes that it hoped for.
President Al-Sisi had said Egypt needed as much as $300 billion in investments “to rebuild and give the country’s 90 million people a genuine hope to live well and enjoy life”.
And over the next couple of years, I feel, he would be able to generate the needed funds to put Egypt back on track; a responsibility that he must shoulder.
Of particular significance for me are his Majesty King Hamad’s words at the conference: “In Bahrain, we have a special appreciation for Egypt, and we always recall its leading role in supporting the kingdom in various development fields, particularly education since the 1920s, and health care, among others.
“Today, Egypt is contributing to Bahrain’s development march through its intellectuals, scientists and experts in the legal, cultural, economic, as well as education, health and services”.
Not only did the king appreciate Egyptian contribution to Bahrain’s progress but also affirmed to the audience that an economic delegation was accompanying him to consolidate the solid bilateral economic ties.
He noted that the Bahraini representatives of business sector, private sector and financial and banking institutions will meet their Egyptian counterparts to discuss with them ways to strengthen investment and avail of the available projects in tourism, industry, construction and banking services.
His Majesty King Hamad in his address had strongly asserted that Egypt’s initiative would consolidate its great leading role in championing Arab causes.
This conference, I believe, therefore, is the much needed ‘good news’. And this good news has a positive impact not only on Egypt, but also on the entire troubled region of Middle East.
Let us hope that Egypt, its ties with Arab nations, and its ties with Bahrain will flourish and prosper – faster and stronger – than what many people think.