CAIRO: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is on a tour of the Middle East. He will travel to Egypt, then to Jordan and Turkey. His trip to Egypt sparked a lot of speculation about potential points of discussion between the Saudi and Egyptian side, especially in the areas of economics, tourism and bilateral investment.
Arabic news spoke at length with the Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Rania al-Mashat, who described the relationship between the two countries as “very strategic”. “It’s a long-term relationship. When there is a summit, there is always a bit of optimism and hope, and a certain consistency when it comes to discussing the future,” she said, adding that this visit is “extremely important”.
“In addition, this meeting comes at a time when the international situation is very complicated. It’s a real challenge. There are winners and there are losers. Everyone is concerned about certain issues such as global economic growth, employment and inflation in the world. So this summit is a summit that I think involves a lot of anticipation. But as has happened in previous visits, the results are always very favorable for both nations, “said Al-Mashat.
Egypt is chairing and hosting the UN Climate Conference, COP 27, to be held in November. Ms Al-Mashat says Egypt as host will pursue the goals set at COP 26 held last year in Scotland. “We want this COP to be the implementation of concrete actions. Many promises were made in Glasgow,” she says.
She clarified that three key points are on the agenda: “First and foremost, Egypt as president takes an impartial stance, but adaptation and resilience remain extremely important. This is all the more true of what is happening globally, particularly with regard to food security, insofar as food is associated with other forms of vulnerability, in particular water issues. Since Egypt is in Africa, adaptation and resilience to the continent is quite important. So this is an opportunity that needs to be seized. ”
The fact that COP 27 is led by an African country is also of great importance to Mrs Al-Mashat. “The voice of the countries in the south is more influential within the G20, just as Indonesia, another country in the south, is. Between the G20 and COP 27, two great nations, two voices, will speak on behalf of middle-income countries, on behalf of developing economies,” he said. she.
Ms. Al-Mashat adds that the goal of the next conference will be to implement the promises and not just to formulate them. “It is about understanding how all the commitments made can be financed and transformed into projects where it is possible to invest in middle- and low-income countries,” she explains. “Especially in countries that are not focused on mitigating the effects of climate change, but that need to adapt, due to climate risks related to water scarcity and desertification, which represent major problems for countries.
Regarding the joint bilateral committees in the Gulf, Al-Mashat notes that “discussions always focus on different types of strategic investments. What we have seen in March and April are directions in line with what Egypt wants to do to further open the private sector to foreign investment. “
Golf investment in Egypt is a clear sign of confidence, the Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation continues, adding that the Gulf’s priority for diversifying the economy, purchasing power and technology is good news for the continued development of foreign investment in Egypt. “Gulf investments are always looking for good opportunities, and that also opens the door for other investors. It is therefore a very positive step forward, ”she states.
Arab tourists, especially those from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, can also play a crucial role in Egypt’s economy. The number of Russian and Ukrainian tourists – who according to the Ministry of Tourism make up 40% of beach holiday guests in Egypt – has fallen since the start of the war in Ukraine. Al-Mashat, however, clarifies that “the influx of tourists from Europe, with the exception of Russia and Ukraine, has been extremely favorable and positive”.
While the planet is slowly recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, “everyone wants to travel,” she adds. “Obviously, several countries have experienced an influx of tourists compared to before. In this context, the impact of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been somewhat mitigated, “she notes, adding that markets other than Ukraine and Russia have helped to mitigate the decline in the number of tourists.
Although the number of European tourists has been particularly high, Arab tourists in Egypt still play an important role, “especially those coming from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, which will hopefully continue,” Ms Al-Mashhat stressed. Before the pandemic, Saudi Arabia was in fifth place in terms of the number of tourists visiting Egypt.
Being a female minister in the Arab world is not an easy task. Al-Mashat, however, rose gracefully through the ranks to take leadership positions in prominent economic institutions after obtaining an MA and PhD in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
She worked as an adviser to the chief economist of the IMF from 2016 to 2018, and then became Egypt’s first female tourism minister in January 2018. Her journey towards becoming one of the most influential women in the Egyptian economy did not stop there when she was appointed Minister of International Cooperation in December 2019.
The Minister also talks about his future. “I do not know what the next step will be. But I know we are trying to meet all the challenges and solve all the problems to always move forward in a positive way and try to achieve this goal for both men and women.”
“Keep hoping and stay positive and optimistic as much as possible because each of us has many admirers trying to find strength in what we do. So we should not waver or feel down even though our world seems like a very dangerous one. place right now. “
Mrs Al-Mashat believes in “the power of cooperation and collaboration and of trying to work together to be able to overcome all the risks we may face today”.
This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com