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Egypt-Gulf relations tested by Saudi visit to Ethiopia dam

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Egyptian media lashed out at Saudi Arabia over a high-level Saudi delegation visit to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during a short trip to Ethiopia on Friday. Experts said the decision to visit the GERD was an act of revenge against Egypt that could deepen tensions between the two countries.

Ahmed al-Khateeb, a senior adviser at the Saudi royal court and board chairman of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), visited the site and met Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and other officials to discuss GERD’s construction project.

Khateeb’s trip came after the Saudi agriculture minister visited Ethiopia last week, making it the second visit by a Saudi official to Addis Ababa in less than a week.

On Saturday, Egyptian news commentator Mohamed Ali Khayr called on Riyadh to “review its policies before it can only blame itself for what ensues”.

“Egypt is not obliged to continue to contain its reactions towards Saudi Arabia… any interference [by Saudi Arabia] in the GERD project implies a direct threat to Egypt’s national security,” he said on Egyptian TV.

Khayr went as far as accusing Saudi policy makers of being “amateurs” that have caused bilateral relations between the two countries to completely break down as a result of this visit.

On Saturday, Ahmed Moussa, another journalist, threatened Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that if they were to invest in Ethiopia, their investment would be lost in the Nile.

Moussa continued to condemn the visit over his talk show on Sada al-Balad, an Egyptian satellite TV channel.

“The GERD will not last forever, a volcano might erupt at any moment. So for those looking to invest billions [of dollars] in this project, your money might as well be going to waste,” said Moussa.