July 31, 2023
10:00 am - 11:00 am


Zoom Webinar

Last month’s visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Egypt, on the heels of his trip to Washington, was the latest move in a rapidly warming relationship between the two countries. A few months before, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had been the key guest at India’s 74th Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi — the first Egyptian head of state to be accorded that honor. Apart from “ensuring continuing momentum” in the relationship, according to an Indian foreign ministry spokesperson, both countries are keen to expand their bilateral economic engagement. 

India, which currently hosts the G20, has already pledged to invite Egypt to the group’s next meeting in New Delhi. There are also whispers of Egypt possibly being a step closer to potential BRICS membership. While the deepening relationship is clearly important for both countries, it’s also a sign of a larger shift in geostrategic alliances. What does this new landscape mean for emerging economies and for the developing nations that have long taken the status quo for granted? The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to invite you to join an expert panel to discuss this question and more. 


Amb. (ret.) Navdeep Suri 
Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation

Mohammed Soliman
Director, Strategic Technologies and Cyber Security Program, Middle East Institute 

Mirette F. Mabrouk, moderator
Senior Fellow; Founding Director of the Egypt Program, Middle East Institute 

Key Takeaways

  1. Although the relationship between Egypt and India dates back to the Pharaonic and Talmeez periods and was particularly strong in the 50s and 60s, it faded during the Mubarak years. Since 2016, the relationship has once again entered a period of close cooperation with state visits by President El-Sisi and Prime Minister Modi, hallmark visits by the Indian and Egyptian defense and foreign ministers, and a special invitation to Egypt by India as the president of the G20 summit.
  2. Panelist Mohammed Soliman, who coined the term ‘Indo-Abrahamic alliance,’ argued that recent geopolitical developments have forced us to reevaluate the construct of the Middle East as a concrete entity. He argues that connectivity and linkages between the so-called Middle East and Western Asia (Iran, India, etc.) have always existed and were disrupted by centuries of Western imperialism. With the advent of the I2U2 and players like France, UAE and India, we need to think about the Middle East differently, from a maritime or an Indo-Pacific position. 
  3. Ambassador Navdeep Suri noted that India is in a ‘goldilocks position’: With a stable government for the past nine years, India implemented reforms that have enabled them to achieve rising economic growth. Moreover, with many economic actors looking to diversify their investments away from China; India offers a promising alternative in Asia. Additionally, India, a member of the non-aligned movement,  believes it is large enough to be autonomous of geopolitical blocs — an advantage in a new multipolar world. 
  4. Mirette F. Mabrouk noted that for all its millennia of recorded history, Egypt has found it difficult to pivot and is scrambling to be proactive in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. Egypt first needs to take advantage of its location and existing relationships in order to be regain former traction in the foreign policy arena. Egypt’s pivot to Africa shows a step in the right direction toward a progressive stance on minilateral alliances.
  5. Economics will be a major issue between Delhi and Cairo. India, unlike the Gulf states which are currently looking to acquire assets, is seeking greenfield investments. The Suez Canal economic zone in Egypt is a critical opportunity for Indian investment, bringing the relationship between the two countries closer and potentially alleviating the current economic crisis in Egypt. ReNew Power Private Limited — one of India’s largest renewable energy companies — has signed an MOU to build a green hydrogen factory in the Suez Canal Economic Zone. The Suez Canal Economic zone will be important for India, both diplomatically and economically as a pathway to the African market and for Egypt as it underscores its centrality in the supply chain. 

Detailed Speaker Biographies 

Mirette F. Mabrouk is an MEI Senior Fellow and founding director of the Institute’s Egypt Studies program. She was previously Deputy Director and Director for Research and Programs at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council. Formerly a fellow at the Project for U.S. Relations with the Middle East at the Brookings Institution, Mabrouk moved to D.C. from Cairo, where she was director of communications for the Economic Research Forum (ERF). Before being appointed associate director for publishing operations at The American University in Cairo Press, Mabrouk had over 20 years of experience in both print and television journalism. She is the founding publisher of The Daily Star Egypt, (now The Daily New Egypt), at the time, the country’s only independent English-language daily newspaper, and the former publishing director for IBA Media, which produces the region’s top English-language magazines.

Amb. (ret.) Navdeep Suri is a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation. He has had a 36-year-long career in the Indian Foreign Service: he served in India’s diplomatic missions in Cairo, Damascus, Washington, Dar es Salaam, and London. He was also India’s Consul General in Johannesburg, High Commissioner to Australia, and Ambassador to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. He also headed West Africa and Public Diplomacy departments in India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

Mohammed Soliman is the director of the Strategic Technologies and Cyber Security program at the Middle East Institute, where he leads a global team of scholars to explore the policy challenges associated with the intersection of technology, geopolitics and business in the Middle East and emerging markets more broadly. He is also a visiting fellow with the National Security Program at Third Way. He has additionally served as a country analyst for the Peace Tech Lab at the U.S. Institute of Peace, as a Huffington Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, and as a Junior Centennial Fellow at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. A native of Cairo, Soliman began his career as an engineer and worked as a consultant, providing strategic advisory services for local and international businesses. 

Photo T. Narayan/Bloomberg via Getty Images