Foreign Policies of two Gulf States (Saudi Arabia and Qatar)

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Foreign policies of two Gulf States.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar

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Saudi Arabia and Qatar are members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (CCASG), which was created on May 25, 1981, along with other Gulf States such as Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. These nations are collectively referred to as the Gulf Cooperative Countries (GCC). The objectives of CCASG include promoting technical and scientific progress in mining, industry, agriculture, animal resources, and water; devising similar regulations in fields such as finance, economy, trade, tourism, customs administration and legislation; establishing scientific research centers; encouraging cooperation from the private sector; setting up joint ventures; establishing a common currency called Khaleeji by 2010; and lastly strengthening ties between their peoples.

Saudi Arabia is the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Iraq to the north, Jordan to the northwest, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to the east. The Red Sea lies to its west while Oman and Yemen are located in the southeast. The Persian Gulf is situated in its northeast region. Saudi Arabia has a population of approximately 27.5 million people and covers an area of about 2.24 million square kilometers with its capital city being Riyadh.

The country experiences very little rainfall and has vast deserts.

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1. Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Arabia – MSN Encarta (2007) [database online], available from

Saudi Arabia is home to immense deposits of natural gas and oil lying beneath the nation’s surface. The country’s religion is Islam, which developed in the 7th century. The Kingdom was established in 1932 by Abdul Aziz ibn Saud.

Since the late 1950s, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy has been consistently guided by three themes: Arab Nationalism, Regional Security, and Islam. The Kingdom’s foreign policy is shaped by historical, geographical, religious, security, economic and political factors and principles. It is based on major frameworks such as non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations; a good neighbor policy; strong relations with Gulf States and other nations on the Arabian peninsula; strengthened relations with Islamic and Arab nations for the benefit of common interests; promotion of issues; cooperation with allied countries; adoption of a non-alignment policy; and effective participation in regional and international organizations.

Gulf Circle

Ever since the establishment of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, the Gulf Circle has been considered as a crucial aspect of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Within the Gulf Circle, great importance is placed on historical connections, blood relations, and the unique geographical neighborhood that unites Arab Gulf states. Additionally, there is a focus on shared cultural similarities and values.

2. Foreign Policy,” Saudi Arabia – Foreign Policy, (n.d.), [online database]; available at

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has published a database online titled Kingdom Foreign Policy.” The publication date is not specified. The database can be accessed at

There are existing economical and political systems in place. Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy is based on principles such as responsibility for the stability and security of the region, the right to depend on security, and preserve independence with respect to their own discretion. Additionally, they decline obstruction in the internal affairs of other countries.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy objectives are to maintain its position and security on the Arabian Peninsula while protecting the general Islamic and Arab interests. The country aims to maintain cooperative relationships with both oil-consuming and oil-producing nations, as well as uphold solidarity among Islamic governments. Despite being accused of being tolerant of extremism, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy generally does not promote violent revolution or hostility.

As the world’s principal exporter of petroleum, Saudi Arabia has a vested interest in preserving a stable long-term market for its vast oil resources by partnering with western economies that can protect the value of their financial assets. Historically, Saudi Arabia has viewed externally supported rebellion and aggression as an impending threat to national security. Therefore, its main policy objective is to maintain political stability throughout the Middle East region that encompasses the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia’s main concerns tend to concentrate on its two more powerful populous neighbors: Iran across the Persian Gulf and Iraq to the north. Additionally, Saudi Arabia is a charter member of the Arab League and supports Israel’s withdrawal from territory occupied since June 1967. Although Saudi Arabia officially supports a peaceful resolution of Israeli-Arab disputes, it declined participation in Camp David Accords,” insisting that they would be counterproductive.

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4. Foreign Policy,” Saudi Arabia – Foreign Policy (n.d.), [database online]. Available from

5. Ibid.

It is currently impossible to establish a comprehensive political solution that would guarantee the rights of Palestinians and adequately address the issue of Jerusalem. Saudi Arabia played a crucial role in improving relationships with other nations and forging new alliances during the Persian Gulf War, but this came at a financial and diplomatic cost, including strained relations with countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.

While these countries initially remained silent following the invasion of Iraq, they eventually called for an end to violence after coalition troops were deployed. The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s support for Iraq resulted in severed ties and financial aid from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states. However, recent developments have seen Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority improve.

In 1931, the US recognized King Ibn Saud’s government in Saudi Arabia. Two years later, the King granted concessions to an American company allowing them to survey for oil in the Eastern Province. The US did not send an ambassador until 1943 when World War II made it clear how strategically important Saudi oil was. In that year, President Roosevelt took action.

After the 9/11 attack, Saudi Arabia issued a statement condemning the act as inhumane and regrettable. As a result, Saudi Arabia discontinued its recognition of the Taliban. As of mid-November 2001, the Bush administration continued to appreciate Saudi Arabia’s aid in the war on terrorism. However, reports have indicated frustration from the US regarding Saudi Arabia’s lack of action.

Much of Saudi Arabia’s aid has been given to poorer Islamic communities, including those in non-Islamic nations. This has contributed to the diffusion of a uniform type of Islam, which discounts the traditions of different ethnic groups.


Qatar places increasing importance on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to bring unity and intensify ties between Arab nations. It propagates knowledge of peaceful ways to resolve misunderstandings among nations, supports the UN’s efforts to maintain peace and security, and maintains good relations with all peace-loving nations and countries.

Qatar refutes and disallows all types of terrorism regardless of their objectives, causes, or means. It differentiates between people’s struggle for self-determination and rightful rights of freedom according to international law provisions. Qatar also invites all international agreements aimed at resolving problems and supporting struggles given by international and regional organizations in achieving stability and peace in world regions.

Even before 1990, Qatar had an intimate relationship with Saudi Arabia, its more powerful and larger neighbor. This was due to their religious affinity and geopolitical realities. Qatar often followed Saudi’s lead on many global and regional issues.

Despite Qatar’s support for Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War, it has maintained a good relationship with Iran. However, its relationship with Bahrain continues to swing, as conflicts frequently arise over territorial disputes.

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6. Qatar Foreign Relations,” Embassy of Qatar – Foreign Relations, (n.d.), [database online]; available from

The Embassy of Qatar provides information on the country’s foreign policy through their website. The source, titled Qatar Foreign Policy,” was published in 2005 and is available online as a database. To access this information, visit

The Embassy of Qatar provides information on the foreign relations of Qatar. The database is available online at

Decades ago, most of the disputes involved adjacent islands that both countries claimed. Tensions rose in 1991 when Qatari naval vessels passed through Bahrain’s waters and Bahraini jet fighters flew into Qatari airspace. This disagreement was referred to the International Court of Justice to determine if it had jurisdiction.

Qatar’s relationship with the US has generally been proper, but it took an abrupt turn in 1988 when Stinger missiles were seen at Doha’s military parade. When the Qatari government refused to surrender the weapons to the US, the US implemented a policy of withholding economic and military support. The dispute was settled in 1990 when Qatar destroyed or terminated the missiles. Soon after, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield greatly enhanced Qatar’s image as a security partner to the US, resulting in bilateral military changes. In 1992, the US and Qatar signed a bilateral defense cooperation agreement,” providing access to Qatari military bases and future combined military exercises.

For many years following Saudi Arabia’s lead, Qatar declined to have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. However, this changed when Qatar announced that it would establish relations with Russia at an ambassadorial rank. After the termination of Soviet Union in 1991, Qatar established relations with the newly independent Russian Federation.

In September 1971 after announcing its independence, Qatar became a member of UN. In 1973, a US embassy was established there.

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The Embassy of Qatar provides information on Qatar’s foreign relations through their website. The database can be accessed online at

10. Ibid.

US-Qatar relations did not blossom until the 1991 Gulf War, according to Qatar Foreign Policy. Since then, trade between Qatar and the US has increased significantly. In fact, US exports to Qatar have amounted to $354.11 million.

In 1998, Qatar’s exports to the United States mainly consisted of transport equipment and machinery. On the other hand, US imports from Qatar were primarily fertilizers and textiles. Despite the presence of American companies in Qatar’s hydrocarbon industry, the United States does not import oil from Qatar (Qatar Foreign Policy).

The US has been helpful in Qatar’s progress towards political liberalization”. In March 1999, Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Sue Kelly led a congressional delegation to observe the election of Qatar’s Central Municipal Council. After the election, Congress passed a resolution congratulating Qatar and its people for their commitment to democratic ideals (Qatar Foreign Policy).

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11. Qatar Foreign Policy,” Embassy of Qatar – Foreign Policy, (2005), [database online]; available at

12. Ibid.

Works Cited.

Kingdom Foreign Policy.” is a database available online from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, dating back to 2006. It can be accessed at

Foreign Policy.” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Policy is available on a database online. The information can be found at

Qatar Foreign Policy.” is a database available online at the Embassy of Qatar’s website. The resource was published in 2005 and can be accessed at

Qatar Foreign Relations.” is a database available online at the Embassy of Qatar – Foreign Relations website. The source can be accessed through (n.d.)

Saudi Arabia” is a country located in the Middle East. This information is from the MSN Encarta database, accessed online in 2007. The website link to this information is

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Foreign Policies of two Gulf States (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). (2016, Sep 08). Retrieved from

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