Egypt's president allegedly mocks Gulf wealth

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks to Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum at the opening of the World Future Energy Summit in Dubai Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum

Asking for money is a delicate matter, so when an alleged audio recording of Egypt's president mocking oil-rich Arab states was leaked while he was doing exactly that, the chatter online was anything but kind.

The Arabic hashtag "Al-Sisi despises the Gulf" in Arabic became a trend with more than 1m tweets in just two days and the alleged leaked audio - uploaded on a pro-Islamist Turkish TV channel's YouTube channel - has been listened to hundreds of thousands of times.

The authenticity of the audio could not be confirmed and while the president's office did not react to the story, the Egyptian Prime Minister denounced the allegations as "lies."

While many online voiced their concerns over the future of relations between Egypt and some of its biggest benefactors, other Arab tweeters called on their governments to stop funding Egypt's Al-Sisi as they deemed the overall tone of the recording "disrespectful" and "ungrateful."

The alleged recording is a year old and dates from the time when Al-Sisi was Egypt's defence minister. On the recording, he's heard telling his office director to ask the Saudis for "10 [billion dollars] to be deposited in the army's account." He also asks for the same amount again from both Kuwait and UAE. When his office director responds with laughter, El Sisi says "So what? They have money like rice." In other words - they're rolling in cash.

So how did Saudis respond? Well, with jokes, and - you guessed it - many pictures of small white grains. A sarcastic hashtag that translates to "They have money like rice" went big in Saudi with over 300,000 tweets.

Image copyright Twitter / Liberalih
Image caption "This is a picture of a [Saudi] bank"
Image copyright Twitter / memoalsafer
Image caption "Anyone want anything from the grocery store?"
Image copyright Twitter / @abdulkararim
Image caption "A picture of a Saudi man with his money"
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "Money laundering"

Even a France24 journalist joined in the joking: "It seems that the unified currency of the Gulf states is rice ;-)"

The alleged leak has yet to affect Egypt's standing among rulers in the region - Saudi King Salman said that "Saudi's position towards Egypt and its stability and security is firm and will not change," according to the state news agency.

Blog by Mai Noman

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