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27 February 2024

UAE renews solidarity with Saudi Arabia

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. (Wam)

By Wam

The United Arab Emirates has reiterated full support to Saudi Arabia against Iranian interference in its internal affairs and the readiness to take further steps in support of the Kingdom.

This statement was made by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed during a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel Al Jubeir and Secretary-General of the Arab League Dr. Nabil Al Arabi in Cairo on Sunday.

The press conference was held at the end of the extraordinary meeting of the Arab foreign ministers, chaired by Sheikh Abdullah.

"The foreign ministers affirmed that we as Arabs, do not want a conflict, a confrontation or even a war with Iran. We rather seek to drive development for our countries, our peoples and our region. We believe that the Arab region is blessed with rich natural and human resources, enough to meet our peoples' aspirations but unfortunately, that wasn't possible due to years of bickering and conflicts," Sheikh Abdullah said.

Sheikh Abdullah urged Iran to come to its senses and get out of its revolutionary rhetoric and the religious and chauvinistic aura it uses with its citizens.

"I think we will continue to be in this situation but we want normal relations with Iran and it is for them to prove they are sincere as well, not only by words, but also by tangible action."

Asked if Iranian apology was satisfactory for the Arab countries and Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdullah said such apology would be acceptable in normal circumstances if it was made by a nation that can mean what they say, not by countries that are still undecided whether they are a state or a revolution.

Asked whether commercial relations with Iran were behind UAE's decision not to follow the suit and severe its diplomatic ties with Iran, Sheikh Abdullah said the volume of UAE's foreign trade exceeds $400 billion and its trade with Iran contributes only 4 per cent of that.

"It is true that we had historic commercial relations with Iran and in the 60s and 70s, but today, trade exchange between the two countries has little contribution in our national income," he said and added that tourism contribution to the GDP is estimated at 8.3 per cent, far exceeding the country's trade volume with Iran, adding that 17 million tourists visit the UAE every year.

He countered news reports that 500,000 Iranians live in the UAE, saying the number of Iranians in the UAE is less than 90,000 and the Iranian companies operating in the UAE are less than 200.

"I urge (the media) not to blow things out of proportion."

"I am sure the attacks on Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran form an act of aggression against Saudi Arabia, hence, against the UAE. The UAE downgraded diplomatic levels with Iran, but nothing can stop us from taking further steps in support of Saudi Arabia."

Sheikh Abdullah underlined UAE's by Saudi Arabia, saying that the two countries are engaged in the Arab Coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen.

"Our commercial interests are not going to prevail on our political interests," he said.

Sheikh Abdullah also said in the 1973 war, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan cut oil exports to the United States and the Netherlands who were supporting Israel.

"I hope this will eliminate any misconceptions about the UAE and its stances in support of the Arab countries."

Sheikh Abdullah stressed the importance of the extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Sunday in Cairo and the strong support given to Saudi Arabia's sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs.

He further said that following speeches, the meeting discussed developments and Saudi Foreign Minister detailed the situation.

"The attacks against Saudi embassy and consulate were blatant violations of the international law. Moreover, there are many issues that kept adding up since the Iranian revolution."

Sheikh Abdullah said all Arab countries agreed to the meeting's resolution and final statement, except Lebanon which abstained voting for the resolution and objected to the statement.

"All issues, whether related to the UAE, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria and (Iranian) interventions in Lebanon and Iraq were discussed. It is true that at the end of the day Iran is a neighbour, but we can't establish what identity that neighbour wants to adopt, the good one or the absurd one."

He added: "Unfortunately, we see that Iran is currently interested in mending fences with the West, not with the region. If they made the same efforts to lift sanctions and to resolve nuclear differences with the 5+1 countries, they would have reached a solution with the region's countries but we haven't seen any serious approach yet. We might hear talks here and there but we do not see positive action. In fact, all we see is negative actions. Iran should stop that to show they are sincere."

Asked if there were any mediation efforts, Sheikh Abdullah said he wasn't aware of any such efforts.

"Some of the Arab foreign ministers made contacts with Iranian officials but there was no sign from the Iranian side that qualifies such contacts to the level of mediation."

He added that in politics, there is no such a thing as turning down mediation offer and there are no perpetual differences.

"Iran will always remain a neighbour and we should deal with them based on that. However, we cannot restore ties with Iran to what they used be without addressing the issues between us."

On the Syrian issue, Sheikh Abdullah said hopes were pinned on the upcoming meeting of the Syrian opposition with the Syrian regime in Geneva on January 25.

" Arab countries involved in Vienna Declaration will definitely support that complicated track."

Al Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia deals firmly and seriously with these interferences, adding that it was also the responsibility of the Arab League in light of its objectives to protect the Arab nation and maintain the Arab national security, peoples and capabilities.

Al Jubeir stressed that the Arab League Council is to assume its responsibility and deal with these interferences in accordance with the Charter of the Arab League.

Dr. Nabil Al Arabi called to take Arab collective stance aiming to halt Iranian interferences in the Arab internal affairs.

He stressed Arab full support for Saudi Arabia's proceedings in order to maintain security and sovereignty.

He confirmed that the meeting reflected the Arab solidarity with Saudi Arabia and condemnation of attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad.