How a joke about Sisi’s fridge has strained Cairo-Riyadh ties

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Saudi Shura Council head Abdullah Al-Sheikh’s unannounced visit to Cairo on Nov. 3 was apparently Riyadh’s positive response to Gulf mediation efforts to calm tensions between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and to keep their feud out of the media.  Madani, a former Saudi information minister, had mixed up the name of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi during his speech at the Oct. 27 inaugural session of the first Education Ministers Conference organized by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in Tunisia. Madani had called Essebsi “Mr. President Beji Caid al-Sisi” and immediately realized his mistake and chuckled before stating, “That was a horrible mistake. I am sure your fridge has more than water.” This statement was a reference to an Oct. 25 comment by Sisi in a meeting with a group of young people at a seminar on the sidelines of Egypt’s first National Youth Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. Sisi had said, “I am one of you. … I swear to God, I spent 10 years with nothing but water in my fridge, and no one heard my voice.”

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