Saudi Arabia is considering a course for the further promotion of integration projects within the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) under its patronage as one of the main directions of its foreign policy in recent years. However, not all of the kingdom’s partners in this organization are enthusiastic about such actions of Riyadh. The Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates represent particular opposition to the Saudi plans to transform the GCC into a kind of federal structure. The growing tension in relations between the largest players in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – may become one of the factors in the further transformation of the geopolitical landscape of this region. These two states, publicly declaring their brotherly ties of mutual respect, have actually turned into rather irreconcilable rivals, dividing neighboring countries into zones of influence (Barrett, 2016). In this context, the topic can be formulated as follows: UAE and KSA relations as a factor in changing the political situation in the Middle East region. The suggested list of research questions is given below:
- Analysis of the spheres of influence of the UAE and KSA in retrospect and at the moment
- The increasing international role of the UAE
- Geopolitical approaches and methods of the two states. Syrian and Iranian factor.
- Realities and prospects of cooperation between the UAE and the KSA
- The American factor in relations between the UAE and Saudi Arabia
- Analysis of the historical-religious and political-economic paradigms of the institutional development of the UAE and the KSA to assess the degree of transformation of the main parameters and directions of development of diplomatic tools of both states, as a reflection of their social and religious-legal dynamics
- Economic factor of disagreement between the UAE and the KSA
- Assessment of the potential impact of the dynamics of relations between the UAE and the KSA on the situation in the GCC and the region as a whole.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are without exaggeration among the most active actors in international relations in the Middle East. The KSA exists in the minds of Arab citizens as a historically indisputable authority and hegemon, largely due to its status as the center of the Islamic world. In recent years, the Emirates have gained fame as a popular tourist destination and a country where migrants go in search of a better salary and standard of living.
It can be stated that recently there has been a clearly visible tendency of growth of contradictions and conflicts in relations between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. The UAE reacts rather painfully to the desire of Saudi Arabia to completely dominate both in the region and within the GCC, considering other states only as their unconditional satellites. According to some analysts, such dissatisfaction with Abu Dhabi’s “imperial” policy of Riyadh is connected, first of all, with the “conflict of elites.” This is about the growing ambitions of the “second generation” of Emirati rulers who do not want to put up with the former status quo, as was the case under Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Miller & Verhoeven, 2019). The Emirates rightly believe that their country, have achieved significant success in the economic sphere and accumulated quite a solid political capital, having significant prestige in the world community. Moreover, it is becoming the largest financial center in the Gulf, and it no longer has the right to remain on the sidelines in the GCC. Taking into account the above-mentioned, thesis statement can be formulated as follows: The UAE and the KSA are increasing their influence in the region without looking back at each other, which leads to the destabilization of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and the aggravation of internal contradictions in the GCC.
Barrett, R. C. (2016). The Gulf and the struggle for hegemony: Arabs, Iranians, and the West in conflict. Middle East Institute.
Miller, R., & Verhoeven, H. (2019). Overcoming smallness: Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and strategic realignment in the Gulf. International Politics, 57, 1-20.