UAE, Saudi can create historic opportunities for region: UAE vice president

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. (AFP file photo)
Updated 23 February 2017
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UAE, Saudi can create historic opportunities for region: UAE vice president

DUBAI: Combining the capabilities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia can create historic opportunities for their peoples and the whole region, said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE vice president and prime minister, and ruler of Dubai, WAM reported on Tuesday.
He was speaking at a joint retreat on Saadiyat Island, attended by some 150 Emirati and Saudi officials to discuss the best ways to advance bilateral relations.
Called Al-Azm, or determination in Arabic, the retreat sought to turn agreements and understandings into tangible field projects that will benefit the peoples of the two countries and achieve a new level of exceptional bilateral relations, he added.
The retreat was held following directives from UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Saudi King Salman to enhance historic ties and draw a roadmap to develop them in the long term.
UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed and Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi deputy crown prince and chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, co-chaired the retreat, held as one in a series of joint meetings aimed at intensifying cooperation and consultations in several spheres.
Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Emirati and Saudi ministers and senior officials took part.
“Through our integration, solidarity and unity, we can protect our gains, enhance our economies and build a better future for our people,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“I am optimistic about the young leaders responsible for the quest for integration between the two countries, namely Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
Sheikh Mohammed added: “Chairing the Emirati delegation is the best guarantee for the success of this quest. We have great confidence in his ability to lead this historic progress between the two countries.”
Sheikh Mansour described Emirati-Saudi relations as “strong, but the leadership wants them to be exceptional and exemplary and moving toward a new, different and integrational level.”
He said: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, are closely following up on all the steps of co-operation between the two countries and have directed the speeding up of this blessed quest.”
He added: “We are the largest two Arab economies, have the most modern forces in terms of arms, form one social fabric and have leaders who want co-operation to go further, and people who want further integration.”

The combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the UAE and Saudi Arabia stands at $1 trillion, the largest in the Middle East, with $713 billion in exports, the fourth-largest globally. Bilateral trade amounted to AED84 billion ($23 billion), Sheikh Mansour said.


Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft

A handout photo released by Iraq's Prime Minister's Media Office on January 20, 2019 shows Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (C) during his trip to the southern city of Basra. (AFP)
Updated 38 min 30 sec ago
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Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft

  • Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of Daesh on it calling for support for the protests

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s exclusion from US sanctions on Iran and allowing it to import gas and electricity will not ease the pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government, Iraqi politicians and officials told Arab News on Sunday.
Mass demonstrations are planned for later this week in the Shiite-dominated southern provinces to protest about the lack of basic daily services including electricity and drinking water, high rates of unemployment and corruption in ministries and government departments, activists told Arab News.
Iranian energy and natural gas imports amount to about 4,000 megawatts per day, equivalent to 20 percent of Iraq’s total production.
The US three-month extension waiver allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas and electricity is expected to dampen some of the anger and give Abdul Mahdi’s government a chance to find more radical solutions to the electricity shortage caused by terrorist actions, lack of planning and government corruption over the past 15-16 years.
People in Basra plan to take to the streets on July 20, activists told Arab News.
“Unemployment, scarcity of electricity and potable water and corruption are all still in place and none have been addressed despite the fact we have been protesting every year,” Sheikh Raied Al-Fraijai, the head of Basra tribal council and one of the Basra’s key activists, told Arab News.
“We will demand the dismissal of Abdul Mahdi and his government,” he said.
Electricity supply from the national grid does not exceed a 12-hour-a-day average during the summer, when temperatures exceed 50 degrees Celsius. This is one of the most powerful engines of the demonstrations, which usually turn violent and lead to clashes between protesters and security forces.
Last summer demonstrations extended to most of the southern provinces and Baghdad. There were massive riots, especially in Basra and Amara, where government and party headquarters were set on fire, as well as the Iranian Consulate. At least 22 demonstrators and security personal were killed.
Controlling the demonstrations and preventing Iraqi political forces from exploiting them is one of the challenges facing both local governments and activists.
Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of Daesh on it calling for support for the protests and inciting demonstrators to attack members of the “Savage army,” a term used by Daesh to describe the Iraqi army.
“This game (the circulation of the leaflet) aims to give the necessary cover for the local government in Basra to target us,” an activist told Arab News.
“Now they (local officials) have a good pretext to come after us. They can easily say that we are belong to Daesh or just say these are aimed to provide the cover for sabotage and targeting security forces.”