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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Saudi, Egypt to build bridge over Red Sea

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, in Cairo

  • Project to boost trade between two continents: Saudi
Saudi Arabia on Friday announced plans to build a bridge over the Red Sea to Egypt, in a lavish show of support for the government of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, who is on a rare five-day trip to Egypt, made the announcement after meeting Sisi at the president's Ittahidiya Palace.

"I agreed with my brother his excellency President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to build a bridge connecting the two countries," King Salman said.

"This historic step to connect the two continents, Africa and Asia, is a qualitative transformation that will increase trade between the two continents to unprecedented levels," he added.A beaming Sisi, who minutes earlier had presented the king with the ceremonial Nile Collar, suggested naming the structure the "King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge".

The idea of a causeway between the two countries had been floated before, especially by ousted Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, but never made it past the planning stage.

Thousands of Saudi tourists visit Egypt annually, and thousands of Egyptians visit Saudi Arabia each year for pilgrimage.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians work in the oil-rich kingdom and send home much-needed remittances.

Following King Salman's announcement, representatives of both countries signed 17 investment deals and memorandums of understanding.

A government official had said the deals agreed with Saudi Arabia throughout Salman's visit would amount to about $1.7 billion.

They included an agreement to set up a university and homes in South Sinai, as well a power plant. The Saudis are expected to make another major announcement today, according to the kingdom's ambassador to Egypt.

"The investment deals that will be signed on Saturday evening will be a surprising amount that will please everyone," Ahmed Qattan wrote on Twitter.

"This visit comes as a confirmation of the pledges of brotherhood and solidarity before the two brotherly countries," Sisi said in a televised speech.

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