The arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Cairo this week brought with it a flurry of diplomatic and economic announcements, including a $10 billion joint fund for the development of a megacity stretching from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, and possibly even Jordan.
While the dollar amount is eye-popping, skepticism is warranted given the number of announced megaprojects in the region that have come to naught. But that doesn’t mean that the crown prince’s decision to stop in Egypt, on a tour that includes London and Washington, is not without importance.
For the past two years, Egypt’s relations with the kingdom have been patchy, as regional foreign policy differences and Saudi Arabia’s own economic recovery and reform effort have encouraged Riyadh to direct its financial largesse elsewhere. Yet Saudi support is still extremely welcome, if not essential, to Cairo’s efforts to jumpstart an economy that has been flagging for years. And Mohammed bin Salman’s visit signals a realization in Riyadh that it needs to bolster its struggling ally.