In a dazzling display of monetary muscle, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates poured $8 billion in a single day into the coffers of Egypt’s army rulers in cash, grants, loans without interest and gifts of gas, a dizzying life-saving infusion into its tottering economy. Forking out sums on this scale in a single day – or even month – is beyond the capacity of almost every world power – even the US and Russia – in this age of economic distress. The Arab oil colossus managed to dwarf Iran’s pretensions to the standing of regional power.
Tuesday, July 9, just six days after the Egyptian army overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, a UAR delegation of foreign and energy ministers and national security adviser landed in Cairo. They came carrying the gifts of $1 billion as a grant and $2 billion in long-term credit.
In well-orchestrated moves, Saudi Arabia then stepped forward with a $5 billion package, of which a lump sum of $2 billion was drafted to Egypt’s state bank that day, followed by another $2 billion as a gift of Saudi gas, and a further $1 billion for propping up the sagging Egyptian currency.
The delivery by two Arab governments to a third of financial assistance on this scale and on a single day is unheard of in the Middle East, or, indeed, anywhere else.