Egypt and Saudi Arabia agreed to build a bridge connecting the two Arab nations, the latest effort to deepen bilateral ties since the Egyptian army led the removal of an Islamist president nearly three years ago.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced the project during a visit to Cairo on Friday, without providing further details. The link will be named King Salman Bridge, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said at a joint appearance with the monarch. The two countries are separated by the Gulf of Aqaba, which varies in width from 12 to 17 miles, and the Red Sea.
The bridge is a “historical step that will connect Asia and Africa,” and will increase “exports of the two countries to the rest of the world,” the 80-year-old Salman said.
Friday’s agreement is an example of a Saudi Arabian strategy to support the Egyptian economy through investments rather than direct aid. The kingdom, along with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, had earlier poured billions of dollars into Egypt in the form of cash deposits, grants and oil products, supporting a government that shares its hostility to political Islam. Egypt’s military under El-Sisi led the 2013 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Mursi.
The two governments also signed accords to build a university and housing projects in southern Sinai, part of a $1.5 billion deal to develop a peninsula where militant violence mostly targeting Egyptian security forces has raged. There was no mention of a touted $20 billion deal to provide Egypt with oil products on easy terms over five years.