The UAE on Tuesday announced the formation of a new partnership with Saudi Arabia outside the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), in a move that could undermine the larger alliance that is already in disarray with some members allied against Qatar.
The announcement by Emirati foreign ministry, just hours ahead of a GCC meeting in Kuwait, said the new ''joint cooperation committee'' was approved by the UAE's ruler and President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan.
Saudi Arabia did not immediately comment on the new partnership.
The Emirati ministry said the new ''committee is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries.''
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are already in close ties with Emirati troops deployed in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nayhan is also believed to have a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia's young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
UAE did not say whether any other Gulf Arab countries would be invited to join the new group.
It wasn't also not clear how the development could affect the six-member GCC meeting, which is expected to focus on the Qatar issue.
With half of the GCC members boycotting Doha, Kuwaiti Amir Shekh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has called for a new mechanism to resolve disputes among GCC members. The Amir also called for the setting up of a committee to look into modifying the GCC's statute.
"Any dispute on the Gulf level must not affect the continuation of the summit", the Amir said. He noted that while the developments have been worrying, GCC leaders have managed to calm the situation.
"We have been stormed in the past six months with painful and negative developments ... but we managed to achieve calm," he said.