Saudi-UAE agree to build oil refinery and plan to launch joint digital currency

UAE and Saudi announce policy partnerships during Prince Mohammed bin Salman's second visit to Abu Dhabi in a year

Related: Seven key takeaways from Saudi-UAE summit

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday arrived in the UAE for an official visit, where the two countries discussed regional issues and strengthening relations, and launched four new policy partnerships.

Prince Mohammed touched down in Abu Dhabi just before 6pm for his second high-profile trip to the UAE in a year.

He was welcomed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

After an elaborate reception and an inspection of the guard at Qasr Al Watan, the two leaders discussed mutual issues.

Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi, where he is accorded an official reception. From MBZ's twitter

Sheikh Mohamed later revealed the pair had reached agreement on four new policy partnerships and reviewed seven strategic initiatives.

Among the partnerships was an agreement to build a giant oil refinery with a capacity of 1.2 million barrels a day, and a digital currency to enable trading between banks in the two countries, Sky News Arabia reported.

The two nations also agreed to enhance cyber security between Saudi Arabia and the UAE to prevent attacks.

The Saudi-UAE Co-ordination Council also reviewed strategic initiatives, including a joint tourist visa for residents of both countries.

The UAE considers Saudi Arabia to be its "safety valve", which "carries the banner of defending its interests against all aspirations and projects aimed at splitting Arab unity", the Saudi news agency Spa said on Wednesday.

It said the two countries agreed on many "Arab issues", including the conflicts in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

They had an "identical position" on Iranian intervention in Bahraini affairs and its occupation of the three UAE islands.

Prince Mohammed also invited the UAE to attend the G20 summit in Riyadh in November 2020, Saudi state TV reported.

Saudi Arabia will host the 15th annual G20 Leaders’ Summit on November 21 and 22 next year in its capital Riyadh.

“I am delighted to welcome my brother and friend, Mohammed bin Salman, to his second home, the UAE,” Sheikh Mohamed said on Twitter on Wednesday. “Our dear guest is among his family.”

After meeting at the Presidential Airport in the capital, the two Crown Princes were driven through Abu Dhabi as the sun set.

UAE and Saudi Arabia flags lined the streets to welcome Prince Mohammed, with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai also lit bright green.

As the cars approached King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street, the black Mercedes carrying the royals was joined by a procession of mounted cavalry.

At Qasr Al Watan Palace, Prince Mohammed was welcomed by a military band that performed both countries’ national anthems.

He and Sheikh Mohamed were then greeted in the great hall by dozens of children.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, was among the first to welcome Prince Mohammed to the UAE.

"Welcome Mohammed bin Salman to your country, where you are surrounded by brothers and family,” he said on Twitter.

“Welcome brother, supporter, partner and ally, who is leading an ambitious vision for his country. Welcome Saudi Arabia to the UAE.”

On Tuesday, Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, the UAE's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, described the visit as "an historic and blessed day in the development of Saudi-UAE relations".

“The home of Zayed is looking forward to the visit of Prince Mohammed bin Salman," Sheikh Shakhbout said.

“Hello and welcome, every Emirati home will say, to greet Prince Mohammed to his home and country.”

The prince's visit underlines the close relationship between the two countries.

They have presented a unified front on all of the most important issues facing the region down the years.

Those issues include the oil embargo imposed on the US for supporting Israel in the 1973 war, committing troops for the liberation of Kuwait, and the need to restore the legitimate government in Yemen.

Both countries have stood side by side and, on occasions, fought side by side, to defend their core principles.

Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi, where he is accorded an official reception. From MBZ's twitter

In Riyadh this week, bank officials from both countries are meeting to discuss the challenges and opportunities for their two financial sectors.

Much of the impetus comes from the Saudi-Emirati Co-ordination Council, created to bring closer co-operation between the two countries in areas such as defence, politics and culture.

Prince Mohammed's last official trip to the UAE capital took place in November 2018, where he made an appearance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina.

This year, he is expected to meet ministers and officials to discuss strengthening existing bilateral ties.

Sheikh Mohamed is also a frequent visitor to Saudi Arabia and has a close relationship with Prince Mohammed.

Just a few weeks ago, the two were in Riyadh to attend the signing of a power-sharing deal between the Yemeni government and Southern Transitional Council.

"UAE and Saudi relations are an exceptional role model for brotherly ties that go down in the annals of history," Sheikh Mohamed said during the Crown Prince’s visit last year.

“They are firmly based on mutual respect and joint determination to achieve the ambitions of their two peoples for sustainable development, social welfare and economic well-being.”

Prince Mohammed was appointed in 2017. He is also the Saudi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.