Saudi Arabia and UAE move closer with joint military and economic strategy
Saudi Arabia and the UAE unveiled a host of joint military and economic initiatives during their first Joint Coordination Council meeting on Thursday, which analysts believe is a way of undermining the existing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in Jeddah, where the two effective rulers discussed a host of joint initiatives.
"We have a historic opportunity to create an exceptional Arab model of cooperation," UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed 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 $750 billion."
In December 2017, the UAE and Saudi Arabia surprised many by announcing the launch of a "joint co-operation committee" to coordinate "all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields".
The joint Strategy to Resolve initiative was unveiled at the meeting between the two leaders on Thursday and intended to boost cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on a number of security, political and economic issues.
Hundreds of Emirati and Saudi officials worked on the Strategy to Resolve initiative over the past year, to strengthen military, economic and security ties.
Both countries have been key to the year-long blockade of Gulf neighbour Qatar, the bombing of Yemen, and a stand-off with Iran.
The Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council has a strong emphasis on security issues, and analysts believe it is planned to eclipse the GCC - established in 1981 - which Qatar is a member of.
During the meeting between the two de-facto leaders on Thursday, the two countries announced 44 new joint projects as part of the agreement.
These include strategies on food and medical security, supply chains and investment in oil, gas, petrochemicals and industry.
Plans are also afoot for the joint production light weapons, ammunition, military vehicles, and other systems.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are two of the biggest clients of military equipment from the US and Europe, pouring billions of dollars each year into their militaries.
Despite this, the two armies have performed badly during the Yemen war, and Houthi militias and Saudi-UAE backed Houthi forces have effectively fought to a stalemate.
There, competition between the two sides has also been evident.
The UAE is also looking to expand its military influence in the Red Sea area, including East Africa and Yemen.
Relations between the UAE and Saudi Arabia have strengthened under the two crown princes.
Despite the close relations, the two countries have faced some difficult moments such as the Riyadh's decision to prevent Emirati citizens from entering the kingdom in 2009, over a dispute on the map displayed on UAE ID cards.