On this day, the world remembers a common history, decades of relations, and an era of coordination between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
A day that marks the sixth anniversary of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, assuming the reins of power, and pledging allegiance to him on Rabi` Al-Akhir 3, 1436 AH corresponding to January 23, 2015 as the king of Saudi Arabia.
As this anniversary is celebrated, the strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and the UAE is moving to broader horizons and cooperation.
A strategic partnership that embodies the unity of destiny between the two countries, and cooperation in the interest of strengthening the march of the Gulf Cooperation Council and supporting security and stability in the region.
The United Arab Emirates enjoyed a special place with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and the relations between the two countries witnessed a qualitative leap during his reign.
A shift that witnessed the establishment of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, in the second year of his rule, citing it with a Gulf tour, his first since he assumed power, which began with a visit to the UAE on December 3, 2016.
During that visit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was granted. King Salman bin Abdulaziz “The Order of Zayed”, in recognition and gratitude for his pivotal role in strengthening fraternal cooperation between the two countries and supporting joint Gulf and Arab action.
Strengthening the march of Gulf cooperation
The memory of the pledge of allegiance comes at a time when the UAE presides over the current session of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and it was preceded by the holding of the Council’s summit for the same session in the capital, Riyadh, on December 10.
An integration that highlights the strong relations between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the strategic partnership and unity of destiny between the two countries, and the importance of cooperation between them in promoting the march of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
At that summit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, published, through his Twitter account, pictures that he collected with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, writing: “With my brother, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, during our participation in “The Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh … the cooperation council will remain … and the Gulf brotherhood will remain … because it is an Arab guarantee for the future … and the region’s hope is to be part of making and shaping the world’s future.”
The Coordination Council … prominent milestones
On the level of bilateral relations, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have solid fraternal relations in all fields established by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Relations between the two countries were strengthened with the support of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the Emirates, and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
It deepened and took root under the supervision and follow-up of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, until the relations between the two countries became a model to be emulated in relations between countries.
And with the directives of the leaders of the two countries, the march of cooperation between the two countries proceeded towards strengthening partnership and achieving integration in various political, economic, security and military fields, in a way that would contribute to achieving the good and well-being of the peoples of the two countries, confronting challenges in the region, chief among them combating terrorism, and enhancing security and stability in the region.
The march of cooperation was established through the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, whose establishment was signed on May 16, 2016, at the Peace Palace in Jeddah, in the presence of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
In the first step to activating the terms of the agreement signed between the two countries by establishing the council, and setting up a long-term road map for it to be the ideal model for cooperation and integration between countries, Abu Dhabi hosted on February 21, 2017 the joint extraordinary retreat between the two countries under the name of “the retreat of resolve.”
On April 13, 2017, Riyadh hosted the second group sessions of the Resolve Retreat, with the participation of more than 200 officials from the governments of the two countries, experts in various sectors, in addition to representatives of the private sector.
On June 7, 2018, the first meeting of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council was held in Jeddah under the chairmanship of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
During the meeting, a joint vision of the economic, development and military integration between the two countries was announced through 44 joint strategic projects.
The leaders of the two countries set a period of 60 months to implement strategic projects that aim to build an exceptional complementary model between the two countries, which supports the march of joint Gulf cooperation, and at the same time contributes to protecting gains, protecting interests and creating new opportunities for the two brotherly peoples.
The first meeting of the Joint Coordination Council witnessed the signing of 20 memoranda of understanding to promote Saudi-Emirati integration in various fields, and the launch of a package of strategic projects.
On November 27, 2019, the second meeting of the council was held in Abu Dhabi and chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
This meeting witnessed the exchange of 4 memoranda of understanding in the fields of health, culture, space and food, and a review of 7 strategic initiatives.
The seven initiatives include a joint tourist visa, facilitating traffic flow between customs outlets, a joint food security strategy, cybersecurity, a common digital currency, a new giant refinery project, and the Saudi-Emirati Youth Council.
As a culmination of these continuous efforts, the UAE-Saudi relations witnessed a quantum leap in many areas, the most prominent indicators being the entry into force of the double taxation avoidance agreement signed between the two countries, as of early April 2019.
On May 13, 2019, the UAE and Saudi Arabia signed in Riyadh an agreement on mutual recognition of the approved economic operator program between the two countries, with the aim of enhancing customs cooperation, facilitating intra-trade movement and accelerating trade exchange rates.
As part of its continuous efforts to activate joint work mechanisms between the two brotherly countries, the UAE Ministry of Finance hosted, at its headquarters in the Emirate of Dubai, last January, the first meeting of the joint Saudi-Emirati working group emanating from the Coordination Council.
This meeting is considered an effective platform that enables the two parties to discuss all challenges that may affect the activation of joint economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.
The language of numbers
This shift was reflected in the economic and trade relations between the two countries, which have become an exceptional and rich model for cooperation and solidarity, as Saudi Arabia is the first Arab trade partner and the third in the world of the UAE, and it acquires about 7% of the UAE’s non-oil trade with the world.
The UAE is one of the Kingdom’s most important trading partners in the Arab region in general, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in particular.
The volume of trade exchange between the two sides is the highest between the GCC countries, accounting for 113.2 billion dirhams, including free zone trade.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also ranked the first trade partner importing from the UAE in the world and the first Arab country to import from the UAE of gold, copper wires, establishments, dairy and cream, with a value of 30.9 billion dirhams, 12.8% of the total UAE exports to the countries of the world During 2019.
The Kingdom is the first trade partner in the world to re-export to it, and the first Arab country, with a value of 57.2 billion dirhams, 11.1% of the total UAE re-exports to the countries of the world, and the eighth place in terms of exporting countries to the UAE, with a value of 25.1 billion dirhams during the year 2019 .
The balance of Saudi direct investments in the UAE exceeds the barrier of 16 billion dirhams, and there are 4459 Saudi trademarks registered in the UAE, 70 commercial agencies and 16 registered companies operating in several investment sectors.
Regarding the value of Emirati investments in the Kingdom and the economic sectors exchanged between the two countries, the UAE is at the forefront of countries investing in the Kingdom, with a total value of more than 34 billion dirhams, which reflects the activity of nearly 122 investment projects for more than 65 companies and prominent investment groups in the UAE that implement major projects in Saudi Arabia.
While the value of investments of Emirati banks in Saudi Arabia amounted to 53.5 billion dirhams in the first half of 2019.
The two countries have the two largest Arab economies, and they are also among the top 10 exporting countries in the world, with the total value of exports of goods and services close to 750 billion dollars in 2018.
Foreign Policy .. Enhancing security and stability
In terms of foreign policy, the two countries adopt common positions on Arab, Gulf, regional and international issues, as they work to promote joint Arab action, safeguard the march of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and combat terrorism.
In addition to enhancing security and stability in the region and the world, confronting foreign interference in the affairs of Arab countries, and working to find permanent solutions to the region’s various crises and conflicts.
On the ground, the two countries took a common position on the events that some Arab countries witnessed in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring protests in 2011, by supporting the stability of these countries against anarchic organizations.
And as an extension of the historical and strategic relations between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two countries formed a model in facing challenges that reached the point of testimony in which the blood of the sons of the two countries was mixed in support of legitimacy in Yemen, as part of an alliance aimed at defeating terrorism and confronting extremism.
The Saudi-Emirati relationship represents a safety valve not only for the two countries, but for the entire regional system, as they embody the values of stability and development, as well as the logic of political rationality and the concept of the modern state, in respect of international values and legislation.
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