The two strong men of the Arabian peninsula, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, met in Riyadh on Monday (19 July) in a show of solidarity to put to rest rumours of a rift between them and their two countries.
Mohamed bin Zayed tweeted:
During our meeting in Riyadh, my brother Mohammed bin Salman and I discussed ways to further deepen the fraternal bond and strategic cooperation between our nations. The partnership between the UAE and Saudi Arabia continues to be strong and prosperous. pic.twitter.com/s3r93xAc28— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) July 19, 2021
Special but complex
UAE-Saudi relations may be characterised as being very special but rather complex. Fifty years ago, Saudi King Faisal practically acted as the midwife as the new Emirati state was born from the ashes of the Pax Britannica that had dominated the Gulf region for centuries. This was in spite of the fact that earlier some had thought that Saudi Arabia harboured territorial ambitions vis-a-vis some of the seven UAE emirates. Yet, the UAE’s founder and first president, Sheikh Zayid, endeared himself to the Saudi leadership, and relations have remained strong since. They have, however, never been without their problems.
The latest irritant has been a dispute on the price of oil which saw the two countries openly criticising each other for the first time in a long while. However the dispute has now been resolved, the oil markets have calmed down, and the two leaders can again focus on how they can work together to deal with a myriad of issues, not least the potential vacuum being created by the US repositioning in the face of the threat from China, which some say will leave the Gulf region exposed to adventurism from Iran and other sources.