Egyptian president to visit Rome

Sisi begins European trip with two days of meetings in Rome

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will visit Rome on 24-25 November as part of his first trip to Europe since taking office in June, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Sisi and his governmental delegation will meet with Italian premier Matteo Renzi to discuss a series of bilateral and international issues such as Egypt's role in the Middle East and how employment can combat poverty and terrorism.

A key feature of the visit will be trade, with Sisi and Renzi flanked by top business leaders from both nations. Italy has over 900 investment projects in Egypt, and trade between the two countries totalled $4.7 billion last year.

The head of the Italian-Egyptian Business Council, Khaled AbuBakr, told ANSA that Egypt will be keen to attract more investment across a range of sectors including education, textiles, fashion, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure and transport. AbuBakr also said that Italy will consider granting a $10-million loan for a high-speed rail link between Alexandria, Cairo and Aswan, as well as becoming involved in the expansion of the Mediterranean ports Damietta, Alexandria and Port Said.

Italy has strong business ties with Egypt historically and currently there are 880 Italian companies operating in Egypt, generating a total annual turnover of €3.5 billion.

Another issue that could be on the agenda is immigration as a large number of the boat people rescued by the Italian navy in the Mediterranean this year have been embarking in Alexandria for their dangerous journey to Europe.

Former army chief Sisi is promoting his country's reputation abroad by attracting foreign investment and boosting the tourism sector, both of which collapsed amid the social and political turmoil that followed the Egyptian revolution in 2011.

In late October Sisi's cultural minister Gaber Asfour, along with his Italian counterpart Dario Franceschini, opened the Tutankhamon exhibition at the Egyptian Academy of Rome.