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.