Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi headed to Qatar on Sunday to attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha, Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Rady said.
Rady stated that El-Sisi will attend the event at the invitation of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, emphasising the “strong fraternal ties” between both leaders.
The visit is El-Sisi’s second official visit to the Gulf state.
The country is hosting the event from 20 November to 18 December 2022, with 32 teams and 64 matches in total.
The Qatari team is set to play the first match against Ecuador on Sunday at 6:00pm Cairo Time (GMT+2).
Tamim’s visit to Cairo was his first since the two countries resumed diplomatic ties following the Al-Ula Declaration, which ended a three-and-half-year diplomatic and economic boycott Egypt and three of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE – had placed on Qatar.
President El-Sisi and Sheikh Tamim have met or talked on the phone on various occasions since signing Al-Ula agreement the latest of which was in July when they participated in the Jeddah Security and Development Summit along with leaders of the GCC countries, Iraq, Jordan and the United States.
The Egyptian and Qatari leaders also met on the sidelines of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in February.
They also held a meeting last winter on the sidelines of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow a few months after their meeting on the sidelines of the Baghdad Conference on Cooperation and Partnership in August.
In the wake of Al-Ula declaration, Cairo and Doha have agreed to move beyond their disputes and work towards settling all their outstanding issues.
They have formed an Egyptian-Qatari follow-up committee that has held seven rounds of negotiations over the past year, the last of which was in Doha last September.
The committee has facilitated the signing of a number of bilateral deals to bolster ties between the two countries, which eventually led to the forming of the Egyptian-Qatari High Joint Committee – headed by both countries’ foreign ministers – in March.
“The impurities that plagued relations were removed through consensus on the statement of Al-Ula, the subsequent honest and sincere activation of the follow-up committee, and the positive results it reached,” Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said during a press conference with his Qatari counterpart in Cairo in March.
Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at the time that bilateral relations “are in constant development,” affirming his government’s keenness for upgrading these relations.