Red Sea Islands Go from Egypt to Saudi Arabia

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March 3, 2018

A pair of Red Sea islands will now be owned by Saudi Arabia, after Egypt's top court swept away all legal challenges.

The two countries agreed to the transfer of Sanafir and Tiran in 2016, but opponents of the move lodged legal challenges. A decision by the Supreme Administrative Court against the move was in opposition to a decision by the Court of Urgent Matters, and so the Egyptian Supreme Court weighed in to say that it was the only court whose decision mattered and that it had no problem with the transfer.

Egypt's Parliament approved the deal in June 2017, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi signed the bill into law a month later. Opposition to the deal was not confined to the courts. Protesters took to the streets in big numbers as well.

Approving the bill originally for Saudi Arabia was Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who arrived for a state visit shortly after the island transfer was finalized.

The two countries have sought to strengthen ties since Sisi became President, in 2014. They also signed an agreement in 2016 to connect the countries by building a land bridge over the Red Sea.

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