All eyes in the UK seem to be viewing the EU Arab League summit as an opportunity for the Prime Minister Rt Hon Theresa May to discuss Brexit with some of her EU partners. However, that is very much a side-show, and on Saturday, King Salman of Saudi Arabia arrived in Egypt for a state visit combined with attendance at the summit. It is being held at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm-El-Sheikh. It is hoped that this two-day event hosted by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, is a catalyst in boosting EU/Arab cooperation in a number of areas including migration, security and climate change.
The global economy, conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen, and the ongoing Palestinian situation will no doubt also feature in discussions. We cannot forget that the economies of the Arab states are built on two areas which are currently facing challenges. Tourism has been deeply affected by terrorist atrocities in a number of countries, and indeed this is something also affecting the EU. Close cooperation in identifying terrorist cells and inhibiting their ability to thrive across country borders is something that will no doubt be covered.
In addition, the Arab economies thrived on the discovery of oil, and the move away from dependence on fossil fuels may well have an impact across the region. Interestingly following a recent visit by the Crown Prince to India, Saudi Arabia has signed many agreements including one regarding “solar-rich” countries.
We have seen a number of delegations from European countries making official visits to the region, in fact currently, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now visiting Morocco as has been reported on Royal Central. Hence there is a keenness to boost trade between the two areas which in places are so close geographically but in some other areas may seem worlds apart.
Whilst in Egypt it is understood that the King will also have discussions with the President about how to specifically boost understanding between the two countries on a number of subjects.