The Path Forward on Egyptian-Qatari Relations
President el-Sisi’s Recent Visit to Qatar:
- On September 13, 2022, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi arrived in Doha, Qatar for the first time since the two states restored diplomatic ties in January 2021.
- He met with industry leaders and companies, such as the Egyptian-Qatari business council, and Qatari political leadership, including Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
- On September 14, President el-Sisi and Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani signed three memorandums of understanding, addressing inter-state economic investment and development, cooperation on ports, and social affairs.
- Various experts believe that these agreements represent Egypt’s ongoing efforts to counteract an economic downturn — sparked by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and rising debt — by encouraging foreign direct investment.
- Both leaders indicated that they will continue to pursue similar re-engagement policies, with Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani stating that the visit “allowed us to discuss ways to achieve the aspirations of our two brotherly peoples.”
- Qatari state news agency said that the visit ushers in a “new era in relations between the two countries.”
Background on Egyptian-Qatari Relations:
- In July 2013, Egypt’s previous president, Mohamed Morsi, was deposed in a coup d’état that led to el-Sisi’s election. Prior to the coup, Qatar was a staunch supporter of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood regime, leading Egypt to accuse Qatar of interfering in its internal affairs.
- In June 2017, Egypt, joined by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, citing Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, and Turkey.
- As part of this fracture, Egypt rushed to close its ports and airspace to Qatar and expelled all Qatari citizens and diplomats from its territory.
- In January 2021, U.S. officials brokered an agreement between the Gulf states, Egypt, and Qatar ending the crisis and fully restoring diplomatic relations.
- Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud called the move a “complete erasing of all disagreements.”
- With the war in Ukraine deeply impacting Egypt’s wheat imports, Red Sea tourism and foreign investment, this detente comes at a crucial time for Egypt’s economy. Egypt has rapidly capitalized on investment and trade with Qatar since 2021.
- In 2021, bilateral trade increased 50% from 2020 levels. In March 2022, Qatar pledged $5 billion in Egyptian investment deals.