Looking toward Africa, Saudi Seeks Red Sea Political, Economic Bloc

Saudi Arabia is seeking a political and economic alliance with six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in a move aimed at strengthening its interests in the crucial waterway and in Africa, according to reports.

Representatives from Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan gathered in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the initiative, but a final agreement hasn’t yet been reached. A team of experts is expected to meet “soon” in Cairo for technical talks toward moving to an official agreement, Reuters reports.

"This is part of the kingdom's efforts to protect its interests and those of its neighbors," Adel Al-Jubeir said.

“This is part of the kingdom’s efforts to protect its interests and those of its neighbors,” Adel Al-Jubeir said.

Both Eritrea and Ethiopia were not part of the group.

“This is part of the kingdom’s efforts to protect its interests and those of its neighbours and … to stabilise the region that we live in and to try to create synergies between the various countries…” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters after a day of closed-door meetings, according to the Reuters report.

“The more cooperation and coordination that you have among the countries of this region, the less negative outside influence will be on this region,” he said.

The Red Sea coastline of Saudi Arabia is set to receive billions in new investment from Saudi Arabia as it looks to bolster the Kingdom’s attractiveness as a tourist destination. The country’s newest planned megacity, NEOM, sits near Egypt in the northwest coastline of Saudi Arabia.