Saudi Arabia and the UAE: A clean slate

Abdullah al-Sayyid al-Hashimi
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Over the past two weeks, I tried to trace all the political and economic analyses dealing with the subject of the “presence of a dispute” or the “strained relations” between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The bulk of these analyses originated from an attempt to comprehend what happened within the OPEC+ bloc and resulted in an extension of the oil production-cut agreement. Other analyses took advantage of OPEC+’s decision and started piecing together contrived theories while eagerly waiting for an escalation of that “trivial matter,” portrayed by these theories and analyses as “discord,” whereas the Emirati and Saudi brethren alike, considered the matter as “constructive dialogue.”

The most resounding rebuttal to all these analyses came in a speech by H.R.H Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi Minister of Energy, who when asked — on the sidelines of a press conference — to announce that an agreement had been reached regarding the details of the settlement, said: “Why must I mention everything? Discretion is an art practiced by all of us, myself included … you always argue that we are lacking in terms of competent officials, tact or diplomacy, and you also shared a blind perspective vis-à-vis what unites us [Saudi Arabia & the UAE].” He explained: “What unites us is much more than what you write about, unfortunately.” The Saudi minster then turned to his Emirati counterpart H.E. Suhail al-Mazroui and asked him: “Am I correct, Suhail?” “You are 100% correct,” al-Mazroui replied. “The UAE’s relations with Saudi Arabia are what allowed us to speedily reach an understanding with OPEC,” he added. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman reiterated that “no one in the world is involved in renewables as much as Saudi Arabia and the UAE; both countries share great aspirations for renewable energy, and we are working in congruence on this strategy.”

Indeed, Your Highness, it is merely a blind perspective lurking in the world press, news agencies, behind the scenes of global and regional policies, and in shady, dark circles that cannot by any stretch of the imagination understand what brings the two countries together in terms of history, bilateral relations, brotherhood, honesty and trust, and what makes Saudis and Emiratis think of themselves as one. Therefore, they strive to spot one dark speck in the white page, and when they fail, they then conjure it up to the point that they think it will grow and escalate into a disagreement or a rift. Truly they are Your Highness, you speak the truth.

We cannot deny the presence of commercial competition between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In October 2018, H.R.H Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince, announced during his speech at the investment conference held in Riyadh, “The Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has set Dubai as a role model … Sheikh Mohammed has raised the bar of success in the Middle East.” This great statement, by a great man, was tantamount to entering into a race of honorable competition that will strengthen both sides; the Emiratis will be the happiest people in the world as they compete for first place with their closest, friendliest, most loving, sincere and truthful brothers—not only in economic domains, but in all fields. Emiratis always love to win first place, but they would feel exactly the same if their Saudi brothers were to claim first place. They would be just as happy. From the perspective of Emiratis and Saudis, the outcome is the same. How will you ever come to understand that?

Most analyses claim that there are political aspects pertaining to the peace agreement with Israel, the reconciliation with Qatar, or the war in Yemen, among others, and they painstakingly labor to “conjure up” that dark speck on the white page. If they were good students of history and traced what the leadership of the two countries have been saying for many years, and had discerning minds that can appreciate what is deeper than the interests between Saudi Arabia and the UAE—they would have known the naivety of these propositions, and they would have understood that there is no room or possibility for any disagreement to arise on any level, so long as the prudent leadership and the people of both countries are united by this genuine and fraternal empathy, incomparable to anything humanity has ever known.

Are they now surprised by the visit of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to his brother, H.R.H Mohammed bin Salman, on the Day of Arafa? How could they possibly understand the purpose of this visit if their interpretation is grounded in their naive analyses and theories? The purpose of the visit can only be understood by those who genuinely realize that Saudis and Emiratis are opposite sides of the same coin.

To the leadership of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to the peoples of the two brotherly countries, and to the Arab and Islamic nations, and on this blessed day: Happy New Year to All of You.

This article was originally published in, and translated from Emirati newspaper al-Ittihad.

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