ABU DHABI // Combining the capabilities of Saudi Arabia and the UAE could create historic opportunities for the region, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said on Tuesday.
“Through our integration, solidarity and unity, we can protect our gains, enhance our economies and build a better future for our people,” the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai said at a joint retreat on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, attended by 150 Emirati and Saudi officials.
Al Azm retreat, named after the Arabic word for determination, was aimed at creating projects to benefit people of both countries.
The retreat follows Saudi King Salman’s visit in December, which had been hailed as a “paradigm shift in bilateral ties”.
It was held following directives from Sheikh Khalifa, the President, and King Salman.
Co-chairmen for the event were Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, also took part.
UAE-Saudi ties are “strong”, Sheikh Mansour said, “but the leadership wants them to be exceptional and exemplary and moving towards a new, different and integrational level”.
“We are the largest two Arab economies, have the most modern forces in terms of arms, form one social fabric, and have leaders who want co-operation to go further and people who want further integration.”
Officials discussed 10 pillars of integration, including projects that will be announced later in Riyadh, Sheikh Mansour said.
He referred to strong economic ties between the countries, saying the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s combined gross domestic product was US$1 trillion (Dh3.67tn), the largest in the Middle East, with $713 billion in exports.
Bilateral trade stood at Dh84bn and the UAE has Dh15bn of investments in the kingdom.
Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, said the retreat would support the Saudi-UAE Coordination Council and the countries’ efforts in the GCC.
“Our goal is to create a platform for consultation and coordination between our work teams,” Mr Al Gergawi said.
“The agenda of the retreat includes three strategic pillars covering economy, knowledge, human resources, as well as political, military and security aspects.”
Among the projects discussed was the establishment of an integral education system, reported Wam.