According to a statement issued by the royal palace, King Mohammed VI arrived on Tuesday, November 7, in Abu Dhabi, the first leg of his Gulf tour before flying to Qatar. This visit coincides with the opening, on November 8, of the Abu Dhabi Louvre, the first universal museum in the Arab world to promote “tolerance” against fanaticism.
As part of this visit, the sovereign is accompanied by Prince Moulay Ismail as well as his advisers, Fouad Ali El Himma, Yasser Znagui and Abdellatif Menouni. Also present are Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, Minister of Culture Mohamed Laarej and President of the National Museum Foundation Mehdi Qotbi.
At the end of his visit to the Emirates, the sovereign will head on November 12 to Qatar, according to the communique. This journey to both countries is the first since the start of the Gulf crisis in June, in which Morocco has positioned itself as a “constructive neutral party.”
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt decided to cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar. After a week of silence, Morocco announced it would remain neutral in the conflict and King Mohammed VI offered to mediate among the countries to ease tension and put an end to the crisis.
Shortly after declaring its neutrality, Morocco sent plane-loads of food supplies to Qatar to help it cope with the sea, land, and air blockade imposed by the Saudi-led alliance.
In the midst of this serious diplomatic rift affecting the region, many feared Morocco’s move would strain its relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, relations between Morocco and its Gulf counterparts have historically been strong enough to weather Morocco’s neutrality amid the crisis.
With King Salman’s choice of Tangier as his favorite summer vacation spot in recent years, the Saudi King’s decision to holiday in Morocco again this past July was a sign that relations between the two monarchies remain relatively unaffected by Morocco’s position regarding the ongoing Gulf crisis.