His Excellency Dr. Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, stressed that the UAE will not “stand idly by” in the face of Iran’s threats to the region, and its “destabilising behaviour”. He also praised the recent political and economic developments in Saudi Arabia, describing them as a “powerful message of hope.” His Excellency also advocated for uniting Arab countries’ efforts to achieve stability in the region, stressing the importance of a “strong and developing Saudi Arabia, and a stable and robust Egypt,” to accomplish this goal.

“I am more hopeful that the naivete in some quarters about Iran’s destabilizing role in the region, is being replaced by a clearer appreciation of the need to robustly address the challenges it presents.. Its efforts to provide active support for proxies in other countries, stoke sectarian tensions, and undermine the integrity of nation states, have gotten worse, not better,” he added in his keynote address at the opening session of the fourth Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate, organized by Emirates Policy Center.

He then stressed that “the UAE will not remain idle under the shadow of such a threat,” praising US president Donald Trump’s administration’s “robust commitment to addressing the Iranian challenge,” expressing the UAE’s endorsement to Washington’s new approach.

Dr. Gargash highlighted the changes and developments in Saudi Arabia over the past few months, specifically the Arab Islamic American Summit hosted by Riyadh past May, which was attended by US president Trump, along with 55 leaders of Arab and Muslim countries.

“In Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, we are seeing the emergence of a country equipped to deal with the challenges of the future. These developments, in a key regional power such as Saudi Arabia, send a powerful message of hope,” Dr. Gargash continued, advocating for supporting Saudi Arabia’s “reform agenda” in order to achieve a “moderate and stable future for the region.”

UAE Minister of State for foreign affairs then addressed the recent targeting of Riyadh by ballistic missiles fired by Houthi militias in Yemen, stressing that UAE leadership “cannot stand idly by while a new Hezbollah is being built with the support of Iranian ideology and money.” Dr. Gargash added that the UAE is working with the Yemeni government’s forces to combat Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to providing humanitarian assistance to relieve the suffering of the Yemeni people, which amounted to 2.4 billion dollars since 2015.

Dr. Gargash stated that the UAE’s vision of achieving stability in the region, depends on there being “a strong and developing Saudi Arabi, and a stable and robust Egypt,” adding that the UAE has always been a “passionate advocate of evolutionary change” in the region.

“Now is the time for moderate Arab countries to come together to build momentum around a common, forward-looking agenda. One that values stability but that at the same time recognises the urgent need to improve the lot of fellow Arabs throughout the region,” Dr. Gargash said.

He then listed 5 principles to guide the common approach he advocated for, and they were: showing zero tolerance to extremists and their supporters, combining efforts to push back external interference in Arab affairs, promoting cooperation between sovereign Arab nation states, promoting political solutions over conflicts, and better aligning politics and economics in the region through prioritising good governance and economic development.

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