Dubai ruler says Middle East can become the ‘new Europe’

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) talks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum during the Future Investment Initiative FII conference which was held in Riyadh in October. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 November 2018
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Dubai ruler says Middle East can become the ‘new Europe’

  • Dubai ruler says region's conflicts should act as motivation to modernize
  • UAE stands by Saudi Arabia through 'thick and thin', says Sheikh Mohammed

DUBAI: The Middle East can become the new Europe if its countries adopt modernity and development, Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has said.

The Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE told newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat he believed the conflicts in the region offered further motivation to adopt modernization and development.

He said he agreed with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s belief that the Middle East could be the new Europe, he said.

“I believe that conflicts offer further motivation to adopt modernization and development,” he explained.

“Can you competently manage a crisis if you do not have the appropriate tools of the age? Can old circumstances, methods and ways of thinking produce anything else than the products that they had yielded before?”

He said that for more than 20 years he has been warning leaders of the severity of the situation and the need for change.

“But some officials were shocked at the thought that problems in their countries could escalate. Indeed, they escalated until they reached a dead end.”

But he said he remained optimistic about the future. Though costly, he said the lessons learned from the Arab Spring (which he referred to as the Arab Fall), “were valuable.”

“I believe that the majority of the leadership in the Arab world have learned these lessons, which are that the winds of reforms, change and modernization are blowing through the majority of our Arab world. They hold a promise of a real spring.”

Asked about relations with Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Mohammed said: “We always stand by Saudi Arabia, through thick and thin.”

“Our bilateral ties are bolstered through the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council. The council set a joint vision for a complimentary strategy between the two countries, on the economic, development and military levels, through 44 joint strategic projects. We look forward to building a complementary model that supports the GCC and joint Arab work.”

He said he also looked “with optimism and hope at the massive development and modernization operation in the Kingdom.”

“Vision 2030 demands our brothers to work around the clock to implement its projects and programs. They are capable of accomplishing it and they know that the goals of the plan are not a choice. They are necessary to confront current and future challenges.

“Saudi Arabia is a young society, more than half the population is under the age of 30. They need job opportunities. Above all, they need modern education and an environment that is open to change and modernity. Moreover, the developments and changes in the global economy demand the diversification of the economy and reducing dependence on natural resources. This is what Vision 2030 is preparing for.”


Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat: ‘Our security and religion are a red line’

Updated 19 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat: ‘Our security and religion are a red line’

  • Al-Jubeir's statement comes following last week's attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Arabian Gul and installations within the Kingdom
  • He accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is doing its best to avoid war in the region but stands ready to respond with "all strength and determination" to defend itself from any threat, the Kingdom's top diplomat said on Sunday.

In a news conference, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region. He urged the international community to take responsibility to stop the Islamic republic from doing so.

"Our security and religion are a red line," Al-Jubeir said. His statement comes following last week's attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and installations within the Kingdom.

Iran’s foreign minister was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency on Saturday as saying his country is “not seeking war” even as the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Tehran was in a “full-fledged intelligence war with the US.“

The US has ordered bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Arabian Gulf over an unexplained threat they perceive from Iran, raising tensions a year after Trump pulled America out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Al-Jubeir said Iranian regime can spare the region the dangers of war by adhering to international laws and covenants, by stopping its interference in the internal affairs of other countries of the region, by stopping its support for terrorist groups and militias, and immediately halting its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

"Saudi Arabia stresses that its hand is always extended to peace and seeks to achieve it, and believes that the peoples of the region, including the Iranian people, have the right to live in security and stability and to move towards development," he said.

"We want peace and stability and we want to focus on the Kingdom's Vision 2030 which will enrich Saudi people’s lives," he added.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have repeatedly accused Iran of bankrolling the activities of its proxy Shiite militias such as the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and various groups in Iraq.

Houthi militias had repeatedly launched ballistic missiles and rockets into civilian targets in Saudi Arabia since a Saudi-led Arab Coalition threw its support behind the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against the Iran-backed power-grabbers. Last week, they owned responsibility for the drone attacks on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jubeir also urged Qatar, an estranged member of the GCC to stop supporting extremists and terrorists and return to the fold. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt severed trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017, charging Doha of siding with terror groups that have been destabilizing the region. 

Instead of making amends with its GCC brothers, Qatar sought help from Turkey and Iran in bid to alleviate the impact of the boycott action of the group known as the anti-terror quarter (ATQ).