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UAE, Saudi Arabia announce new partnership in 'rebuff' to Kuwait's GCC efforts

In recent years, ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia have strengthened [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2017

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The UAE and Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a new partnership group separate from the GCC in a clear snub ahead of a meeting in Kuwait

The United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday a new economic partnership group with Saudi Arabia – separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In a clear snub to Qatar and Kuwait, who hoped the summit would help resolve a bitter crisis in the Gulf, the move signals the undermining of the GCC council.

Hours ahead of a GCC meeting scheduled in Kuwait, the Emirati Foreign Ministry announced the formation of the new "joint cooperation committee", adding it had been approved by the UAE’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan.

Saudi Arabia did not immediately report on the new partnership.

It is unclear how the new committee will affect the six-member GCC meeting expected to focus on the Qatar crisis, however the move appears to be a rebuff to the Kuwaiti Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad.

The Emirati ministry said the new "committee is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries."

The announcement did not include whether any other Gulf countries would be invited to join.

In recent years, ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia have strengthened. Emirati troops have a strong presence in the Saudi-led offensive against Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar on June 5 over accusations of supporting extremism and being too close to rival Iran, charges Doha has denied.

Previously, Bahrain had called for Qatar's membership of the GCC to be suspended until it accepts the demands of its neighbours and said Manama would not attend GCC meetings alongside Doha.

Bahrain has since decided to impose visas on travellers from Qatar.

Under GCC agreements, citizens of countries in the six-state bloc, including both Bahrain and Qatar, can visit other GCC countries without visas.

Founded in 1981, the GCC is a political and economic union that includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as Oman and Kuwait.

Experts have warned that the six month long diplomatic crisis could lead to the GCC's demise.

Yemen is also expected to come up in the GCC meeting with the recent developments threatening a set back to the Saudi-led war on the impoverished country. The death of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday is a major blow to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition had praised Saleh for "taking the lead" in the conflict.

Since 2015, the war in Yemen has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

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