The Gulf region is a geopolitical hub between Asia, Africa and Europe and its influence extends far beyond the Arabian Peninsula. In the ongoing crises in the region, too, the voices of Saudi Arabia and Qatar carry enormous weight. Following the outbreak of fighting in the Sudan, many people found their way to safety by crossing the Red Sea to Jeddah – just as many initially found refuge in Doha following evacuation from Afghanistan. At the same time, one of the world’s biggest humanitarian catastrophes is raging just a few hundred kilometres south of Jeddah. The fact that Saudi Arabia is now focusing on talks with the Huthis in Yemen is a good first step. Only a political solution can bring an end to the inconceivable suffering of the people of Yemen. In a region where tensions threaten to erupt at any time, and many are convinced that conflicts can be resolved by military means, we Europeans want to maintain resilient channels of communication with our partners in the Gulf. And to strengthen them in their engagement for stability and security in the region.
However, this dialogue also involves directly tackling issues on which our positions are miles apart. These include human rights. The first steps towards liberalisation of society have been a source of encouragement for many young people in Saudi Arabia. I believe that it is therefore only natural that a society that aspires to be a role model for an entire region also listens to the voices of its women – both online and offline.
For decades the Gulf States have produced the oil and gas that have driven the global economy and thus also our prosperity. With temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees and a chronic shortage of water, the climate crisis is now life-threatening for the people in the Gulf as well. That is why, in the run-up to COP28 in Dubai at the end of the year, we are looking at the massive expansion of renewable energies. The world’s highest solar radiation offers huge potential for the Gulf States to base their prosperity on energy even after the end of the fossil era, for example with green hydrogen.