Egypt’s Sisi heads to Saudi Arabia amid financial pressure, regional realignment

Cairo (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is travelling to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, according to three diplomatic sources, as Cairo continues to seek financial inflows to ease pressure on its currency and bolster a faltering economy.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has long provided financial support to Egypt but recently signalled it would no longer provide such backing without strings attached, which observers think may have sparked a rare media clash between the two countries.

The trip also comes amid a major diplomatic realignment in the region, with moves by Saudi Arabia and Egypt to ease tensions with Syria, Iran and Turkey.

There was no immediate official comment from Egypt or Saudi Arabia on the visit.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have repeatedly come to Egypt’s help since Sisi led the ouster of Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood a decade ago.

When Egypt’s financial difficulties were exposed and exacerbated by the fallout from the war in Ukraine last year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar made deposits in Egypt’s central bank and pledged major new investments.

But those investments have been slow to materialise, putting new pressure on the Egyptian pound in recent weeks despite the currency losing nearly half its value against the dollar since March 2022.

Egypt signed a $3 billion rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund in December that targeted $9.7 billion in foreign direct investment in the financial year ending in June 2023.