CAIRO — The issue of sovereignty over the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea at the Strait of Tiran leading to the Gulf of Aqaba is once again making headlines in Egypt. The country had witnessed a wave of anger three years ago against the backdrop of the signing on April 8, 2016, by Egypt and Saudi Arabia of a maritime border demarcation agreement, under which Saudi Arabia gained sovereignty over the islands.
During a meeting with an Egyptian parliamentary delegation June 26, Red Sea Gov. Gen. Ahmed Abdullah revealed great gains for the Egyptian economy that are about to materialize as a result of the 2016 agreement. “A large number of people focused on the islands of Tiran and Sanafir and completely ignored the economic gains that the Egyptian citizen will gain,” he said.
According to Abdullah, Egypt has been able, after the agreement, to exploit the wealth in the Red Sea. He explained that the border demarcation agreement allows Egypt to drill in deep territorial waters because the International Law of the Sea defines territorial waters and economic waters as well as the equidistant line between countries. The International Law of the Sea does not determine the maritime borders between countries.
He indicated that the Ministry of Petroleum entrusted two international companies with the preparation of underwater surveys to help encourage international companies to invest in oil and gas discoveries in Egypt. He also noted that the Ministry of Petroleum launched a tender for 10 oil and gas exploration blocks off the Red Sea coast. “The new discoveries are expected to have a quantity of natural gas equivalent to that of Zohr field in the eastern Mediterranean,” Abdullah said.