RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, kick-starting his tour of four Gulf states.
During this visit, King Salman will hold wide-ranging talks with high-ranking officials from the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
“King Salman will meet with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders and high-ranking Gulf officials to review relations and ways of enhancing them in all fields, and he will also discuss regional and international issues of common interest,” said a statement released by the Royal Court on Saturday.
The statement confirmed that the king would attend the 37th GCC summit, to be held in Bahrain later this week.
The statement added that “based on the king’s keenness to communicate with GCC leaders in serving the people and enhancing brotherly bonds among Saudi Arabia and other GCC states, the Saudi monarch started the GCC tour.”
The king’s visit has added significance as it comes a couple of days before the GCC summit in Bahrain.
The king’s visit also coincides with the visits to the UAE of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, French President Francois Hollande, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.
On arrival in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, King Salman was received at the airport by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Abu Dhabi crown prince and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and several Cabinet members.
An official reception was held for King Salman at the airport, where the Saudi national anthem was played, accompanied by a 21-gun salute.
The king then shook hands with high-ranking UAE officials, including rulers and ministers, while Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed welcomed Saudi officials accompanying the king.
Welcoming the visit of King Salman to the Gulf states, Ibrahim Al-Qayid, founding member of the Riyadh-based National Society for Human Rights, said: “Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as the Kingdom and the GCC, have a strong bilateral relationship, one which has grown even closer these days.”
Al-Qayid added: “King Salman’s visit will be an opportunity to hear and exchange important perspectives on Middle East issues, including Syria, Yemen, the Middle East peace process, Iraq, Daesh, Iran, and above all, terrorism.”
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are close allies, signing a protocol earlier this year to establish a coordination council.
The council is led by Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who is the UAE deputy prime minister and minister of presidential affairs.
The decision to create the council came after similar agreements between Saudi Arabia and other countries such as Jordan and Turkey.
During this trip, the king is accompanied by several members of the royal family, ministers and top officials.
Prominent among them are Prince Khaled bin Fahd bin Khaled bin Mohammed, Prince Mansour bin Saud bin Abdul Aziz, Economy and Planning Minister Adel Fakeih, Commerce and Investment Minister Majid Al-Qassabi, Culture and Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar bin Obaid Madani.