Saudis, UAE step in to help Egypt while the West waits

Protestors flood into Tahrir Square to call for the removal of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on July 7, 2013. Following the ouster of Morsi, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged aid to Egypt to help with the severe foreign currency crisis in the country. Photo by: Zeinab Mohamed / CC BY-NC-SA

While the United States and other top Western donors are waiting to see what will happen in Egypt to decide if they continue assistance to the country, two Gulf states have decided to step in and promised to help a fellow Muslim nation.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — which last week where among the first to recognize Egypt’s new military-installed government — pledged $8 billion to deal with a severe foreign currency crisis, and also in the eyes of many prop up the regime in case the West decides to cut aid.

Of the total, the Saudis will provide $1 billion in direct bilateral aid, $2 billion in oil and gas and a $2 billion interest-free deposit, while the UAE has pledged a $1 billion grant and a $2 billion deposit.

Devex reported in 2011 that Saudi Arabia was slowly rising as a donor, but the country lacks a well-articulated and coherent humanitarian aid policy that prevents it from fully taking a leading role in humanitarian crises.

On the other hand, the UAE — a staunch ally of deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak which never warmed out to recently ousted Mohammed Morsi — is the Arab world’s top donor and the first Gulf state to enter the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s list of 20 top donors in ODA/DNI percentage, where it ranked No. 16 in 2012. The aid community is however not so sure they will be willing to help countries without a sizeable Muslim population.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among Egypt’s top donors and have been increasing their aid to the country especially since the Mubarak regime was toppled in 2011. That year Riyadh pledged $4 billion in long-term loans and grants, while the UAE offered a $3 billion assistance package to help create job opportunities for the Egyptian youth.

In the meantime, interim Egyptian president Adli Mansour appointed liberal economist Hazem al-Biblawi as the country’s new prime minister and unveiled a plan for a transition to democracy within months.

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    Carlos Santamaria

    As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.

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