Bridge of unity

Bridge of unity

Bridge of unity

THE announcement by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman that the Kingdom and Egypt have agreed to build a bridge over the Red Sea connecting the two countries is not only concrete evidence of the historic, long-standing ties between the two countries but a metaphor of that unshakeable bond.

Making the announcement on the second day of his five-day visit to Cairo for meetings with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, King Salman said the historic step of building a bridge connecting the two countries and also linking the two continents of Africa and Asia, is a qualitative transformation that will increase trade between the two continents to unprecedented levels and will create hundreds of jobs.

There had been long-held ideas of the construction of an almost 50-kilometer-long bridge, stretching from  Ras Nasrani, close to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, to Ras Hamid in northwestern Saudi Arabia. At the closest point — Nabq in Egypt and Ras Hamid — the two nations are just 16 kms apart. Since millions of Egyptians work in the Kingdom, thousands of Egyptians visit Saudi Arabia each year for the Haj, and thousands of Saudi tourists visit Egypt annually, it is time the idea becomes reality. In a
fitting gesture, Al-Sisi said the bridge will be named after King Salman.
The bridge announcement culminated a ceremony marking the signing of 17 cooperation agreements between Saudi Arabia and Egypt covering a wide range of fields including trade, housing, transport, education, culture, nuclear, manpower and to establish a university in Egypt’s South Sinai.

In his address, King Salman spoke about the importance and the historic nature of relations between Egypt and the Kingdom, “the impregnable fortress of the Arab and Islamic nation”. Indeed, King Salman’s visit this weekend is intended to announce a new phase in Egyptian-Saudi relations, and a future strategy, which is urgently needed in the region, and which requires a core of committed states to define its contours and details.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are important cornerstones for the future of the Middle East. They possess the human resources and economic and military strengths that can ensure that the tasks of reshaping conditions in this region are not determined from the outside. At a time when what we do not know is much more than what we do know, and events come much quicker than the ability to absorb them, attention to the future becomes an essential component of strategic planning. This need becomes all the more urgent when essential changes in the political theater indicate that developments are not necessarily a repetition of things that happened in the past as much as they are a sign of things to come.

This is an extremely significant visit, which will include a highly anticipated, unprecedented speech by King Salman to Egypt’s parliament. It will put Egyptian-Saudi relations on a new path, to determine the strategic direction of these relations in the years to follow. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have a resilient entente that benefits not only the two countries but the Middle East and its future security and stability, and the world at large. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have a special responsibility to forge a united vision on regional crisis resolution. It is vital now for these two cornerstone states of the Middle East to set a course for the future. Attention to the future becomes an essential component of strategic planning.

Egyptian-Saudi relations are the lynchpin of the Arab region in the struggle to confront the enormous challenges facing the Arab world. This is a time of considerable overlap between their strategic goals, extensive cooperation in economy and high degrees of coordination at all levels. There is a deeply rooted conviction between the leadership and peoples of Saudi Arabia and Egypt that their relationship requires no explanation in view of the many manifestations of its strength.