Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Saudi Crown Prince meets Ruler of Dubai and tours Expo 2020 site

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Prince Mohammed bin Salman hold talks at Zabeel Palace on day two of state visit

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the UAE Vice President, for high-level talks on Thursday.

On day two of his state visit, Prince Mohammed was welcomed to Zabeel Palace in Dubai by Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the emirate's Ruler.

Along with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and a host of other dignitaries, the two leaders discussed several key issues.

Prince Mohammed also toured the sprawling Expo 2020 site in Jebel Ali, which will open next October. He visited Al Wasl Plaza, the centrepiece of the site, and toured the UAE and Saudi pavilions.

“I received in Dubai today, with all friendliness and love, Prince Salman bin Mohammed," Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter.

“History is made by the brave. The history of the region is changing because of Mohammed bin Salman."

It is Prince Mohammed's second visit in about a year. He arrived in the UAE on Wednesday and so far there has been no let-up in meetings, briefings and deals signed.

The centrepiece of the visit so far was a key meeting of the Saudi-Emirati Co-ordination Council.

Established in 2018 to further drive co-operation between the allies, the council entered a new phase after agreements on Wednesday in seven key areas.

Highlights included a plan to develop joint tourism visas for people who want to visit both countries, and building a mega oil refinery in India.

Prince Mohammed also invited the UAE to attend the G20 summit in Riyadh next year.

He has been afforded a welcome reserved for only the UAE's most crucial of allies and went straight to Qasr Al Watan after arriving on Wednesday.

Across the country, a celebration of Emirati and Saudi ties has been in full swing. Saudi flags flew along Abu Dhabi's streets while famous buildings such as the Burj Khalifa lit up in the kingdom's colours.

“I am delighted to welcome my brother and friend, Mohammed bin Salman, to his second home, the UAE,” Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said on Wednesday.

“Our dear guest is among his family."

Prince Mohammed watched the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on his last trip to the UAE, but it is not yet known if he will attend Sunday's race.

His visit builds on the already strong ties between both countries. Co-operation is advancing on several fronts including defence, trade and even a potential digital currency.

Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, the UAE's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, described the visit as "an historic and blessed day in the development of Saudi-UAE relations".

“The home of [UAE Founding Father Sheikh] Zayed is looking forward to the visit of Prince Mohammed bin Salman," Sheikh Shakhbout said earlier.

"'Hello and welcome', every Emirati home will say, to greet Prince Mohammed to his home and country.”

Here is what you need you know about the seven initiatives announced after the Saudi-Emirati Co-ordination Council meeting, chaired by Prince Mohammed and Sheikh Mohamed:

Joint tourist visa: Both countries are increasing tourism, with Saudi Arabia issuing regular tourist visas. Saudi and the UAE agreed to develop a joint visa for residents of both countries which will streamline the experience and boost tourist traffic.

Speeding up the flow of traffic at ports: It can take a few hours for vehicles to pass through the border. Both sides agreed to cut these times significantly in the coming years.

Food security: The UAE and Saudi import most of their food. Boosting food security is essential to guard against shortages or threats to supply lines. Both leaders pledged to develop more diverse supply lines, boost agriculture and ensure affordable prices for all.

Cyber security: Cyber attacks can cause economic and political damage. Both countries said cooperation has already significantly reduced cyber attacks. Both sides also pledged to cut response times from 24 hours to six, drive a 25 per cent reduction in cyber attacks and increase awareness of these threats among the public.

Cryptocurrency pilot: A cross-border digital currency targeted at banks is also planned. This will make people more aware of technology such as blockchain, a type of online ledger, and make cross-border payments easier.

Mega refinery: The UAE and Saudi will develop a $70 billion (Dh257bn) mega oil refinery with a capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day in Maharashtra, western India. Wam reported this would secure the supply of at least 600,000 barrels a day of Saudi and UAE crude oil.

Saudi-Emirati Youth Council: Both leaders understand the power of youth. A new Saudi-Emirati Youth Council will strengthen the partnership between youths in both countries, enable the exchange of ideas and boost their role in society.

Updated: November 29, 2019 02:41 PM

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