The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have formed a new military and trade partnership separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to a statement issued by the UAE.
The development on Tuesday comes amid heightened tensions within the GCC, a political and economic alliance of six countries that includes Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman.
According to the statement from the UAE foreign ministry, the new committee “is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries”.
The GCC has faced an unprecedented crisis over the past six months amid a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
Representatives of the six countries were meeting in Kuwait on Tuesday for the council’s annual summit.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Kuwait City, said the UAE/Saudi partnership “would be seen as very antagonising towards the GCC as an organisation, an organisation that has been under threat very much because of the actions of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in terms of imposing a blockade which has gone on for six months now”.
Since June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt have enforced a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar, accusing the tiny Gulf nation of supporting “terrorism”.
Qatar has denied the allegations and accused the neighbouring countries of attempting to infringe on its sovereignty.
The 38th GCC summit in Kuwait City began amid concerns over how long the crisis has persisted and calls from residents for a speedy resolution.
The announcement of the new Saudi-UAE partnership could complicate matters further, Elshayyal noted.
“For a decision, or an announcement, like that to happen at the summit is something that will be seen, as far as the Kuwaitis are concerned, as quite frankly offensive to their efforts to try and unite the GCC as a region,” he said.