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'No More Free Money', the Order Of the Nile, and a Colossal Bridge Across the Red Sea

King Salman is on a 'historic' five-day trip to Egypt. By day two, the King has received the Order of the Nile and promised a bridge connecting both countries, which comes amidst Saudi businessmen suggesting that the Kingdom is closing the tap on 'free money'.

President Sisi

King Salman of Saudi Arabia is on a five-day trip to Egypt and is currently in Cairo, receiving awards and making colossal deals amidst claims of a coming closing of the tap of ‘free money’. Among the most talked about deals proposed is a massive bridge over the Red Sea connecting the two countries.

On the first day of what is being called a ‘historic’ trip, the Saudi King Salman was being showered with awards and orders. The king received an honourary doctorate by Cairo University on Thursday, and on Friday was granted the Order of the Nile medal by President Sisi. The honours being bestowed are a reflection of the gratitude for the billions given to the state to stabilise the nation after the removal of former president Mohamed Morsi.

Facing shrinking revenues from the low price of oil, some suggest that Saudi Arabia plans on shifting its strategies in terms of investments. According to a Saudi businessman speaking with Reuters UK, "Saudi Arabia will be making investments and soft loans. No more free money." However, on the second day of his visit, King Salman announced: "I agreed with my brother, his Excellency President Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, to build a bridge connecting the two countries," adding that "This historic step to connect the two continents, Africa and Asia, is a qualitative transformation that will increase trade between the two continents to unprecedented levels."

The bridge has been suggested several times in the past, with previous estimates suggesting a cost of $3-4 billion, but no details have been disclosed about the deal. The building of the bridge would mark a new era for both countries, and further deals are expected to be announced over the next few days of the visit, ranging from a $20 billion deal to finance Egypt’s oil needs for the next five years, and $1.5 billion deal to develop the Sinai region. This level of investment isn’t uncommon as billions have been poured into Egypt over the past couple of years by Gulf states to help keep Egypt stable; however, without details about the deals, it will be hard to truly gauge if Saudi Arabia has shifted its strategy of so-called ‘free money’.