RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two Gulf Arab countries bound by strong familial, religious, cultural and commercial ties, have enjoyed a fraternal relationship for most of their modern existence. The depth of the relationship owes much to a tradition of regular official exchanges, reciprocal visits by royals and high-level summits. In an interview with Arab News, Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, UAE minister of state, described how the two countries have adopted policies that benefit the Arab region and contribute to better outcomes for global peace and human welfare.
Q. Saudi-UAE relations have come a long way since the start of the unification of the seven emirates into a federation 50 years ago this month. How would you describe the current state of the bilateral relationship?
A. The UAE and Saudi Arabia maintain a strategic partnership based on the same objectives and vision for regional prosperity, security and stability. The UAE believes that the developmental journey of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince, is remarkable and contributes to the overall progress and growth of the region.
Q. What is the significance of the visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the UAE?
A. The visit comes as part of enduring efforts to deepen strategic cooperation and coordination between our two countries on local, regional and international issues, reflecting the shared visions and policies of our two countries’ leaderships.
Saudi Arabia’s vision under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Highness the Crown Prince is embodied in its efforts and tireless work for progress, especially on the economic front, as Saudi Arabia has championed many achievements to advance the entire region’s prospects for prosperity and development.
Q. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have historically held similar views on economic, security and geopolitical issues. Do you foresee a similarly high degree of commonality going forward?
A. Absolutely. On all fronts, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have worked to bolster bilateral cooperation in service of our peoples and the wider region. Similarities in economic development between the UAE and Saudi Arabia have united our two nations and allowed us to stimulate prosperity.
Having already convened two meetings of the Saudi-UAE Coordination Council in recent years, our two countries are keen to develop new partnerships in all sectors, including tourism, infrastructure, transport, shipping and logistics. Bilateral discussions continue to address efforts to develop the national economy in non-oil sectors, as well as ways to improve the business climate and empower the private sector in our countries.
Politically, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have upheld common objectives to ensure that the region’s peoples can achieve their aspirations for security, stability, peace and development. In Yemen in particular, the UAE remains steadfast in its calls for a political solution to end the conflict and maintains full confidence in Saudi Arabia’s leadership on this.
Furthermore, our two countries have also made great strides in providing aid and development assistance to those beyond our region, to contribute to better outcomes for global peace and human welfare. Going forward, the UAE and Saudi Arabia will continue to use our partnership to advocate for the world’s most vulnerable and join the international community in mobilizing greater support for developmental and humanitarian causes around the world.
Q. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are both diversifying their economies, offering incentives to attract capital and talent, encouraging small businesses and start-ups, and trying to give their young citizens exciting new career paths in the private sector. In what ways can this be a win-win situation for the two countries?
A. The UAE and Saudi Arabia maintain a close and complementary relationship that benefits the two countries and the wider region, which includes economic and developmental integration. We believe that healthy economic competition in the region is important, and the UAE always views it as an opportunity to generate new prospects and adopt policies that benefit the region as a whole.
Moreover, our two countries’ economic partnership is one based on open exchange and cooperation. The Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, a high-level bilateral mechanism established to harmonize Saudi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021, continues to play an important role in inking additional economic agreements and streamlining trade between our two countries.
Q. Where do you see the two countries moving together in the future?
A. As the UAE celebrates 50 years since its founding as a nation, we will continue working to strengthen our regional and international partnerships. Together, with Saudi Arabia, we are in pursuit of a region where prosperity and security flourish, thereby unlocking human potential and ensuring lasting peace.
We share common objectives in preventing extremism and terrorism, and our two countries agree that maintaining maritime security is a priority and strategic necessity for the stability of our neighborhood. Moving into the future, our two nations are committed to working together to address a number of contemporary global issues, including public health, counterextremism, women’s empowerment and climate change.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia, as the largest economies in the Gulf, recognize that we must play a leading role in adopting clean energy technologies and promoting a sustainable future for generations to come. Through economic diversification and green innovation, our two countries are determined to promote climate resilience and conservation, particularly in developing countries.