Saudis 'reward Egypt's parliament islands sell-off' with hajj visas
Saudi Arabia 'rewards' Egyptian MPs who voted in favour of islands transfer with hajj visas
Saudi Arabia has rewarded Egyptian MPs who voted in favour of handing over two Red Sea islands to Saudi sovereignty with thousands of coveted pilgrimage visas.
Saudi Arabia has rewarded Egyptian MPs who voted in favour of handing over two Red Sea islands to Saudi sovereignty with thousands of coveted pilgrimage visas, an parliamentary source has told The New Arab.
Around 1,800 visas, which permit holders to visit Mecca for the yearly hajj pilgrimage, were handed over by the Saudi Embassy in Cairo to the Egyptian parliament's general secretariat, the source said. If divided equally among the MPs, each would receive three visas.
The secretariat notified MPs through text messages to present the names of relatives and others they wish to benefit from the visas within the week, the source said, noting that the number of visas offered by Riyadh is three times the number of visas given to parliament members last year.
Each year, the Saudi Embassy in Cairo distributes so-called 'courtesy visas' to the presidency, parliament, the cabinet and the Foreign Ministry among other sovereign bodies. They are also given to certain diplomats, media outlets and journalists.
The increase this year comes after Egypt's parliament approved the transfer of the Egyptian islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, sparking public anger and legal challenges.
According to Basira, a government-linked think tank, only 11 percent of Egyptians accept that the islands are Saudi.
MPs who voted in favour of the agreement at the behest of the country's strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have been the target of a campaign of outrage, with 'lists of shame' naming them circulated on social media.
Saudi Arabia increased the number of hajj visas allocated to Egypt this year from 62,511 in 2016 to 78,138.