Countries in the Gulf region – Iran and the six Gulf Arab states – will emerge “weaker, poorer and damaged” from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the UAE’s Minister of State, Dr Anwar Gargash. Speaking to the BBC from Abu Dhabi, he said the answer was for the whole region to try to de-escalate its tensions.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the wealthiest countries in the world, made early preparations for the onset of the pandemic, buying in testing kits and setting up production lines for face masks.
Out of a total population of nine million, it has so far registered 23,358 cases and 220 deaths.
Iran, just across the waters of the Gulf, has been the worst-hit country in the region with over 122,000 cases registered and more than 7,000 deaths. The UAE has sent medical aid to Iran, as well as to the UK.
“We knew back in January this was coming our way, that it was not going to stay in China, so we moved very quickly to prepare for it,” says Dr Gargash.
As far back as late January, he says, the UAE’s national security advisor warned that the coming pandemic was going to completely overshadow concerns about the ongoing war in Yemen, where the UAE deployed forces against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels for years before scaling back its involvement.
With the virus being a common enemy for everyone, Dr Gargash said he was hopeful it could lead to a de-escalation of some…