OPEC oil alliance at impasse over production levels.

In this Wednesday, April 8, 2020, file photo, the sun sets behind an idle pump jack near Karnes City, USA.
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In this Wednesday, April 8, 2020, file photo, the sun sets behind an idle pump jack near Karnes City, USA.

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were closely aligned in past years, mirroring the budding relationship that had developed between Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. So close were the two de-facto leaders that the two countries launched into a war in Yemen and cut ties with neighbouring Qatar together. In late 2017, the two nations announced a new partnership to coordinate in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields.

But in recent years, national interests have diverged. The UAE dramatically downsized its footprint in the Saudi-led coalition battling Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. The Saudis moved to rapidly restore diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this year, but the UAE has yet to restore full diplomatic relations and continues to block Qatar-based news sites like Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Sunday suspended all flights to and from the UAE, lumping it with Ethiopia, Vietnam and Afghanistan as coronavirus risks. The kingdom has expressed concern over the fast-spreading Delta variant, which has appeared in the United Arab Emirates.

In recent days, the kingdom changed its law for goods imported from Gulf Arab countries to exclude from a preferential tariff agreement imported goods produced by any Israeli-owned companies, as well as goods with any components produced in Israel. Such products have proliferated in the UAE following the country’s normalization of ties with Israel.

© 2021 The Associated Press

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