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Saudi-Emirati economic competition will mount further

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Significance

This comes amid a growing divergence between the two countries on oil policy, economic diversification and the conduct of regional affairs, including in Yemen. It forms a strong contrast to the close bilateral coordination seen in 2015-18.

Impacts

  • Rising competition will be primarily economic rather than (geo)political, unlike the rift with Qatar in 2017.
  • Discrepancies between the timing of the two crown princes’ accessions in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi may affect ties.
  • Internal UAE tensions could increase if Dubai feels Abu Dhabi is not doing enough to protect its commercial interests.
  • Political leaders in Abu Dhabi may seek benefits through public distancing from reputation-hit Riyadh in Washington’s eyes.

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