The UAE and Saudi Arabia took significant steps on Wednesday to accelerate joint co-operation with the first meeting of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council in Jeddah.
The council, chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, met at the Peace Palace in Jeddah and declared its organisational structure.
There will be a total of 44 joint projects promoting economic, developmental and military integration. The initiative, known as The Strategy of Resolve was prepared by 350 government officials from many fields over a year, and has three main axes: economic; human and knowledge; and the political, security and military.
The two leaders have set a five-year time-frame to implement the projects. The strategy also protects the interests of both countries and creates opportunities for them.
A number of projects were announced on Wednesday, including a strategy for food security, a unified plan for medical stocks, a common supply security system and joint investment in oil, gas and petrochemicals.
The Strategy of Resolve also includes a plan to establish an agricultural investment company with capital of Dh5 billion; a joint venture fund for renewable energy; and a third investment fund for small and medium-sized enterprises.
There are also plans to help the flow of traffic in ports, build a unified industrial database, empower the banking sector in both countries, harmonise economic procedures and legislation and create a joint council to coordinate foreign investments.
Other areas identified by the strategy include security and military cooperation and integration, coordination of foreign military assistance and standardisation in the military industry sector.
“We have a historic opportunity to create an exceptional Arab model of cooperation. Our solidarity and unity protect our interest, strengthen our economies and build a better future for our peoples,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“We are the two largest Arab economies, forming the two most modern armed forces. The economies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE represent a gross domestic product of one trillion dollars, our joint exports rank fourth globally and amount to $750bn, plus Dh150bn annually invested in infrastructure projects, which generates huge opportunities for bilateral cooperation,” he said.
A statement carried by state news agency Wam said: "The council’s vision aims to promote the two countries’ global stature in areas of economy, human development, and political, security and military integration as well as ensuring welfare and happiness for their peoples”.
Among its aims, “the council seeks to develop a joint vision to deepen bilateral relations in line with the objectives set by the Gulf Cooperation Council in order to strengthen economic integration between the sides and develop innovative solutions for the optimum utilisation of resources while building up an efficient and integrated education system premised on grooming qualified national generations”.
In December, President Sheikh Khalifa issued a decree to consolidate ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia and enhance cooperation on regional and global issues.
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Topics discussed included enhancing GDP, military purchases and production, strategic political conversations, oil and petrochemicals, international companies, tourism and culture, education and research and a joint financial market.
At the end of the meeting, Sheikh Mohammed and Prince Mohammed signed the minutes of the council's meeting.
Attending the meeting were Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, National Security Adviser; Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation; Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, UAE Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and a number of ministers.
The council includes 16 ministers from prioritised sectors from both countries.
From the UAE, the council includes Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future; Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy; Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; Obaid bin Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs; Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education; Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State; and Ali bin Hammad Al Shamsi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Supreme National Security Council.
From Saudi Arabia: Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, Minister of Interior; Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud; Mohammed Al Tuwaijri, Minister of Economy and Planning; Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment; Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubair, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources; Ahmed bin Aqeel al-Khatib, Board Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority; Mohammed A. Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance; and Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, chief executive and secretary-general of the board at Public Investment Fund.