Now that its been 5 years since the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, its a bit unclear how much money ended up being transferred between the two countries.

  1. In 2016, it was reported that Saudi Arabia provided a loan of $3b to Egypt, which seems to have been the impetus for them to transfer the islands.
  2. The New York Times wrote in 2016 that Saudi Arabia will provide "a development package for Sinai and an oil deal worth $22 billion to Egypt over five years"
  3. In 2022 the Gulf states have pledged $22 billion to Egypt to help mitigate the Ukraine war fallout, but its unclear if this has anything to do with the 2016 deal

So how much money (if any) did Saudi Arabia end up paying for the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir?

  • That may be too difficult to find out. If Saudi Arabia pays money they may not declare it as such but may label it differently and on the other hand officially they may not have paid anything at all. So the error margin in any estimation might be really high. Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 5:39
  • @Trilarion given the amount of corruption in Egypt I wouldn't be surprised if there's tons of leaked information on what actually happened. At the very least I presume a few hundred million in bribes were sent to Egyptian officials. Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 22:12
  • But how reliable would the leaked information be? And I expect bribes too but it's not the purpose of this site to collect expectations. Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 6:52
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    Not sure that the question has a well defined answer because the series of interactions weren't formulated or intended to be a strict quid pro quo exchange of money and other consideration for land. Indeed, it appears that every effort was made to devise the series of interactions so it would not have that character. By analogy, in an adult dating relationship in the U.S., the couple often has sex and the man often gives gifts to the woman and pays for their outings, but every effort made to arrange matters in a manner distinct from quid pro quo prostitution.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 0:07
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    I doubt there was a "bill of sale" like for Alaska. So it would be impossible to say how much of the KSA aid to Egypt was on account of that or something else... Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 7:09

1 Answer 1


To clarify a point, the islands were returned from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, not sold. The Saudi king at the time permitted Egypt to use the two islands in its endless wars with Israel because the Saudi military lacked the equipment/human capital necessary to defend the islands in a potential conflict with Israel. According to the Wiki page of the islands, even Israel stated that the islands did not belong to Egypt before 1949 (i.e. the year the two islands were granted from Saudi to Egypt).

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    Just because they are being returned does not mean that economic incentives did not get provided in order to help get that to happen. And depending on who you ask that could be considered paying for them.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 20:08
  • I am not disputing that some bribes may have taken place but calling a sale, rather than a return is simply wrong. Moreover, the economic incentives started as early as 2013 with the military coup and the dictator Sissi becoming president, as Saudi & the UAE despised the Islamic Brotherhood. reuters.com/article/…
    – nesta1990
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 21:18
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    I didn't dispute that it was a return and not a sale but just because it was a return doesn't mean that money can't be expected to change hands to compensate for the money that the country put into the land before returning it.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 22:03

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