Saudi King Salman on Monday wraps up a landmark five-day visit to Egypt marked by lavish praise and multi-billion-dollar investment deals, in a clear sign of support for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s iron-fisted regime.
The 80-year-old monarch’s visit comes as Riyadh aims to keep Cairo under its aegis as it remains engaged in several conflicts in the Middle East and competes with Shia Iran for regional supremacy.
The visit also highlights Saudi Arabia’s firm support for Egypt’s fight against the militant Islamic State group, which has spearheaded a brutal insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
“The other mission that we should work on together is the fight against extremism and the fight against terrorism,” King Salman said on Sunday in an address to the Egyptian parliament.
On Monday, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cairo University.
Over the past five days, King Salman and Sisi signed a slew of multi-billion-dollar investment deals that included a plan to build a bridge over the Red Sea connecting Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Egypt also agreed to demarcate its maritime borders with Saudi Arabia by officially placing two islands in the Straits of Tiran in Saudi territory.
The agreement provoked an immediate backlash in Egypt, with thousands of Twitter users accusing Sisi of selling the islands. The islands had historically been Saudi and were “leased” to Egypt in 1950.