Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai, arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday evening to discuss regional security, trade and multilateral diplomacy at a GCC summit with Gulf leaders.
He was hosted at the 42nd annual summit in the Saudi capital by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Shortly before arriving in Riyadh, Sheikh Mohammed said: “We need a good start for the fifth decade of the Gulf Cooperation Council. We look forward to economic integration. We are looking for real and deep cooperation.
GCC states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar – meet annually to discuss trade, political and security issues.
Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Fahad bin Mahmoud Al Said was the first to arrive in Saudi Arabia with his country’s delegation and met with Prince Mohammed.
The country’s foreign ministry shared photos of the Omani delegation leaving for Riyadh.
Sultan Haitham of Oman will not attend the summit as he is due to travel to London and Washington.
The summit is the first time Gulf leaders have met after the landmark AlUla deal was signed in January, which saw Saudi Arabia’s crown prince push for a deal ending a rift with Qatar which lasted three and a half years.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in 2017 over its support for extremist groups.
Qatari Emir Tamim Al Thani was warmly greeted by Prince Mohammed as he landed at the airport on Tuesday evening. The two officials could be seen smiling broadly and kissing.
The presence of the Qatari Emir at the summit is seen as a sign of improving relations between Doha and the GCC states.
As the summit approaches, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said “signs of positive political harmony are starting to appear on the horizon” in the Gulf region.
Sheikh Hamad said he expected the summit to rehabilitate the GCC “and prepare it for a regular new start in various fields, which will be studied and realistic.”
Shortly after the Qatari delegation arrived at the airport, King of Bahrain Hamad bin Issa was greeted by Prince Mohammed, with the Saudi King kissing the king’s forehead.
GCC leaders are also expected to discuss their concerns over Iran and the growing economic rivalry within the oil-producing bloc.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s tour of the Gulf last week established strong ties between the kingdom and the region as world powers seek to rekindle a nuclear pact with Iran.
In recent weeks, the UAE has taken steps to defuse tensions with Tehran.
Update: December 14, 2021, 3:38 p.m.