An Egyptian delegation attended the Qatar Economic Forum in recent days. A smiling al-Sisi met the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Economic agreements, partnerships and a multi-point MoU were signed. The axis between the Gulf countries is strengthened in the face of the difficulties linked to the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.
Doha (AsiaNews) - Strengthening of the bilateral partnership, economic cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) characterised by strategic investments in numerous sectors. These are some of the points that marked the visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Qatar, after years of tensions between the two countries linked to a diametrically opposed relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. This increasingly brings Doha back within the bloc of Gulf nations, archiving a recent past of head-on clashes with Saudi Arabia and regional economic and diplomatic isolation.
On the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum, Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait and his Qatari counterpart Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari signed a multi-point agreement. The aim, explain government sources in Cairo, is to "promote joint cooperation, coordinate visions, positions and financial policies bilaterally and in international forums".
The memorandum is also aimed at fostering the exchange of expertise in the areas of taxation, customs and financial policies, as well as contributing to the achievement of economic and growth targets. The agreement will also make it possible to regulate - and prevent - double taxation between the parties in order to stimulate joint investments.
The visit of al-Sisi to Qatar is just the latest step in a complex diplomatic game between the two countries and at the regional level, in which the economic element has overcome - and archived - the internal divisions in the Islamic world. A process facilitated by the war in Ukraine and the diplomatic and financial repercussions throughout the Middle East region, coupled with fears of a shrinking global economy and an uncertain geopolitical future.
A picture of the Egyptian president smiling and shaking hands in Doha with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Ties between Cairo and Doha came to an abrupt halt, spiced with great tension, with the accession to power of the current president in 2014, following the ouster of his predecessor Mohamed Morsi, an expression of precisely that Muslim Brotherhood supported by Doha and a sworn enemy (in addition to the Egyptian military) of Saudi Arabia and Wahhabi Islam.
The contrasts exploded in 2017 in the deep rift within the Gulf, with Riyadh and allies (Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) breaking off diplomatic relations with Doha, effectively isolating it from the rest of the area. The Qatari leadership has always rejected, at least in words, the accusation of links with the Brotherhood, considered by other countries as a 'terrorist' movement.
At the time, Egypt was one of the most active countries in attacking Doha, even accusing it of interfering in internal affairs and using the al-Jazeera network to spread false information and tarnish Cairo's image in the world. For many analysts, the newfound unity of purpose is a further indication that the regional governments are putting aside the events of recent history to look to the future with a view to cooperation and strengthening economic ties.
At the beginning of the year, a luxury hotel financed by Qatar was inaugurated in the Egyptian capital, which had long been blocked by the diplomatic rift. In June, the emir made his first visit to Egypt since 2015. On the occasion, Qatar pledged to invest five billion euros to boost the economy of the country of the pharaohs, in a difficult phase exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine, nations on which it depended for tourism and grain supplies.