Saudi King Salman and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman receive Egypt’s President Al Sissi at the Neom site near Maqnah, northwestern Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi on Tuesday night made a brief visit to the mega-city of NEOM in north Saudi Arabia, where he met King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, in a sign of closer ties between the two Arab heavyweights.

The two leaders exchanged views on the latest developments in the Arab region and issues of mutual interest, an Egyptian presidential official said. “At the meeting, the whole spectrum of brotherly, bilateral ties between both countries were also reviewed,” spokesman for the Egyptian presidency Bassam Radi added without details.

Al Sissi’s visit to NEOM was the first by a head of state to the $500-billion project since it was launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in October 2017. The project, envisaged as a high-tech hub and an economic zone, links Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

NEOM is part of Vision 2030, an ambition Saudi plan designed to diversify the kingdom’s oil-reliant economy.

Saudi Arabia is a major financial and diplomatic backer of Egypt, which is a partner to a Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Iran-allied Al Houthi militia in Yemen.

Al Sissi’s visit came a day after his talks in Cairo with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi on threats by Al Houthis to international maritime trade on the Red Sea.

Al Sissi this week said Yemen’s stability was crucial for his country’s national security and the entire region.

Last month, Al Houthis attacked two Saudi oil tankers in the Bab Al Mandab Strait, a vital waterway between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.

The attack prompted Saudi Arabia to briefly halt its oil exports through the shipping lane.