Riyadh and Cairo have been holding intensive meetings to advance economic relations and increase trade between the two countries and to encourage Saudi investments in Egypt.
During a January 5th press conference in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr spoke of new horizons open to Saudi investors in Egypt through bilateral ventures.
"The volume of investments between the two countries has grown significantly larger than it was in the past, and available opportunities to grow it further are vast," al-Faisal said.
A new unit dedicated to resolving issues Saudi investors might face in Egypt is set to open soon, Maamoun Saleh of the Ministry of Investment's foreign trade division told Al-Shorfa.
"The unit will work in connection with all relevant ministries that have direct interaction with Saudi investors, such as the trade and industry, tourism and interior ministries, so as to remove any potential obstacles, particularly with regard to obtaining the requisite licenses, and expediting bureaucratic processes," he said.
"The unit, which will be in direct contact with Saudi investors, will expedite the entry of investors [into the Egyptian market] by reassuring them and reducing their initial licensing costs, thus accelerating the infusion of investment funds into the market," he said.
Saudi businessman Rashed al-Jahni, who is in Cairo to discuss the possibility of investing in the restaurant industry, said he has found the atmosphere promising.
All his inquiries have been answered by the relevant officials and his entrance into the restaurant sector has been welcomed by government agencies, he said.
Al-Jahni is considering opening a restaurant chain in Egypt that specialises in Gulf cuisine, and was initially concerned about encountering difficulties.
"However, the efforts by senior officials in the two countries to facilitate the entry of Saudi businessmen into the Egyptian market are quickly beginning to show results on the ground, confirming that the economic and brotherly relations between both countries are indeed strong," he said.
In addition to facilitating the entry of Saudi investors into the Egyptian market, the two countries seek to increase traffic between them through water and land crossings, said Dr. Mohieddine Abu al-Alaa, professor of economics at Zagazig University.
These will serve as economic bridges that will yield important benefits to the Egyptian economy, he told Al-Shorfa.
"This is what Egypt actually needs, more than aid or internal investment," he said. "Increasing exports from Egypt to Saudi Arabia means more work for Egyptian factories, the movement of production and a higher number of employed workers, which would bring relief to the street."
Saudi Arabia ranks first among Arab countries in terms of investment volume in Egypt -- $5.7 billion spread over 2,876 projects -- while the value of trade exchange between the two countries amounts to almost $5 billion, according to Awad Abdel-Azim, a co-ordinator from the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council.
Abdel-Azim said businessmen in the two countries are determined to work together for their mutual benefit and to boost bilateral relations between the two countries.
"Work is currently under way to finalise and prepare the dossiers to be discussed at the meetings of the joint committee for economic and technical co-operation and trade between the two countries, slated to be held next month in Riyadh," he said.
The next phase will focus on building and expanding water and land crossings between the two countries to streamline the flow of cargo, he said.
The primary areas open to Saudi investors are renewable energy, tourism (hotels, restaurants and large tourist projects), construction, agriculture, industry and services, Abdel-Azim said.