Qatar’s emir arrived in Cairo for talks with Egypt’s president, his first visit to the country following years of frayed ties and a boycott of Doha.
With Qatari and Egyptian flags flowing over the tarmac late Friday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was greeted at the airport by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a courtesy only granted to leaders of heavyweight allies.
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The two were expected to discuss on Saturday key regional issues before US President Joe Biden’s anticipated trip to the Middle East next month and to deliberate on ways to further improve bilateral diplomatic and economic relations, local media reported.
Sheikh Tamim’s visit came less than two months after his government announced it would invest $5bn in Egypt, another lifeline to the country’s economy, which has been dealt a blow following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The announcement came during a March visit by Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman.
Egyptian-Qatari relations deteriorated in 2013, when Egypt’s military removed democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi from power.
In 2017, Egypt joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain in a boycott of Qatar in an effort to force Doha to change its policies.
The rift finally ended in 2021, when Qatar signed a declaration with the four to normalise relations. Since then, ties have improved and top officials have exchanged visits.
El-Sisi also met Sheikh Tamim in November on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Glasgow, and most recently in February, when both attended the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Photographs of the two from the events warmly shaking hands came as early signs of renewed rapport.