Egypt Gives Saudis 2 Strategic Islands
Territory ceded during royal visit to Cairo
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2016 2:19 AM CDT
Tiran island is inhabited only by soldiers.   (Marc Ryckaert/Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – A gift fit for a king? Saudi Arabia's King Salman is visiting Cairo, and Egypt has agreed to hand two small but strategic islands over to his country, the New York Times reports. The country's Cabinet announced on Saturday that it had agreed to give up control of Sanafir and Tiran, two largely uninhabited islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. Tiran, the larger of the two, is roughly the size of Manhattan. Saudi Arabia gave the islands to Egypt in 1950 amid fears that Israel might seize them, but while Egyptian officials claim the territory is simply being returned, the announcement caused a public outcry in Egypt and at least five people were arrested during a demonstration in Cairo, the AP reports.

The deal still needs to be approved by Egypt's Parliament. Authorities say it follows 11 rounds of negotiation since 2010, reports the Wall Street Journal. Critics, however, say it looks as if Egypt is selling its land to the wealthier country, especially since Salman announced a new $16 billion investment fund during a speech to Egyptian lawmakers. Al Jazeera reports that the king's visit also yielded an agreement to build a bridge over the sea to connect the two countries. It's not clear where it will be built, though it would involve Tiran island if it's built where the countries are closest. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has already suggested a name: the "King Salman Bridge."
 

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