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    Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman watch the Northern Thunder exercises in Hafr Al-Batin. | Photo: Reuters

The Gulf Arab allies are disillusioned at what they see as President Sisi's inability to address entrenched corruption and inefficiency in the economy.

Saudi Arabia's financial support for strategic ally Egypt will no longer involve "free money" and will increasingly take the form of loans that provide returns to help it grapple with low oil prices, a Saudi businessman familiar with the matter said.

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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait showered Egypt with billions of dollars after then-military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

But low oil prices and differences over regional issues have called into question whether such strong support is sustainable.

Egypt is struggling to revive an economy hit by years of political upheaval since the 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, as well as an Islamist insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula.

The more measured Saudi approach could increase pressure on Sisi to deliver on promises of an economic turnaround and job creation in the most populous Arab nation through infrastructure mega-projects.

Gulf monarchies applauded Sisi after he seized power in 2013, removing the Muslim Brotherhood — seen as an existential threat to their wealthy nations — and mounting the fiercest crackdown on dissent in Egypt's modern history.


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