UAE Prince Travels to Saudi Arabia After OPEC+ Dispute

The de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates arrived in Saudi Arabia and was greeted by his Saudi counterpart, amid tensions between the two Gulf nations over oil, trade and foreign policy.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed met Mohammed bin Salman on Monday at the Riyadh airport upon arrival, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. It’s their first public meeting since the countries clashed over oil policy earlier this month in a dispute that roiled global energy markets until its resolution over the weekend.

The two leaders discussed opportunities to boost bilateral cooperation in various fields as well as regional and global developments, according to SPA. They also discussed recent efforts toward political settlements for crises and challenges in the region.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince greeted his counterpart as he exited the plane and the two men were shown masked, and in conversation, as they walked through a passenger boarding bridge into a reception area. Saudi and UAE flags were shown flying.

“During our meeting in Riyadh, my brother Mohammed bin Salman and I discussed ways to further deepen the fraternal bond and strategic cooperation between our nations,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on his Twitter account. “The partnership between the UAE and Saudi Arabia continues to be strong and prosperous.”

His visit comes during an Islamic holiday. The two princes last met in Saudi Arabia in May.

Oil prices spiked earlier this month after the UAE blocked a deal between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners to increase production. Abu Dhabi had argued its crude-production quota was set too low, a position rejected by Saudi Arabia.

A compromise was eventually reached -- and the two oil ministers made a very public show of how they had patched up their differences at a news conference on Sunday. But the UAE, which last year floated the idea of leaving OPEC, only got about half of what it was demanding, and when the current deal comes up for renewal at the end of next year, more fraught negotiations are likely.

The rift over oil underlined a growing economic rivalry that’s been sharpened by the pandemic, as well as a political divergence with repercussions across the Middle East. While ties are under pressure, there is no sign of a complete breakdown.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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