GCC Giants- Who does International Relations Best?

With regional and global collaboration at a high during G20, we take a look at some of the activities undertaken by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

For a geopolitical observer, the week was filled with nuggets of excitement through the G20 summit, the US repairing ties with Vietnam, and the creation of an economic corridor between India, the Middle East and Europe.

Stay tuned to updates from Confluence Consultants as we bring to you a detailed analysis of the goings on at G20 through the week. Today, our focus is closer to home.

In the GCC, the week was no less exciting with the UAE and KSA engaged in a battle of who maintains and enhances foreign relations best.

Both countries are signatories of the G20 Memorandum of Understanding that will enhance trade, transit and green energy for the participating countries. If successful, it would create long-term gains for all participating countries, including job opportunities and domestic economic growth and a potentially faster realisation of Net Zero goals.

But perhaps one unmissable aspect of the MoU is that it is in direct parallel with the Belt and Road Initiative pioneered by China through its investments across Africa and Eurasia.

What does this mean for KSA’s relations with China? Is China’s weakening economic standing reducing the leverage it once had over its friends? With deeper ties in petro-trade and membership of BRICS, KSA’s dynamics with China will be worth watching as its ties also deepen with Europe, USA and Israel.

Not to say that ties with the USA will be smooth sailing. KSA and Russia’s moves to tighten crude supply has applied pressure on prices on the global market and consequently on Biden. As rising oil prices reflect on gas prices in domestic US markets, Biden’s re-election bid in the upcoming Presidential race also comes under pressure.

For the UAE, the participation in the corridor will further boost its position with the West. With personal thanks from Joe Biden at the G20 summit for what he described as President MBZ’s pivotal role in the agreement of the MoU, the UAE finds itself in a position much less trickier than that of KSA. Despite having established trade in INR with India, and continuing trade with Russia, imposing less than globally agreed sanctions against it, the UAE enjoys cordial relations with the US.

The UAE is also gearing up for the upcoming COP28 with greater collaboration with Africa, having pledged USD 4.5bn towards green energy projects. It is making strides in the field of carbon capturing to reduce emissions, to the extent that it brings forward its Net Zero goals from 2050 to 2045.

KSA is not far behind in sustainability projects. Its establishment, the Global Water Organisation, is aimed at ensuring long-term water sustainability.

Both KSA and the UAE have also entered a partnership with France’s EDF to power Saudi’s luxury resort destination AMAALA entirely with solar power.

With action from both countries, perhaps the answer to ‘who does it best’ is not clear but it is clear that sustainability is on the minds of these GCC giants even if G20 did not yield consensus.

Image source: https://shorturl.at/xBHT6


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