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British Prime Minister Visits UAE, Saudi Arabia as Oil Crisis Persists

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia amid increasing crude oil prices. The Prime Minister is making these visits to urge the leaderships in UAE and Saudi Arabia to increase the production of oil to ease the escalating prices. 

The British leader is also seeking additional sources of oil supply to reduce dependence on Russia. Russia is under various sanctions over its military action in Ukraine. 

Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are major oil producers in the OPEC bloc and have so far refused requests from the US government to increase the oil supply. 

Saudi Arabia has strained ties with the US and other Western countries over human rights records, civil war in Yemen, and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, an eminent Saudi journalist, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. 

The British Prime Minister’s visit has run into controversy as Riyadh recently executed 80 people in one day. Johnson is one of the few Western leaders to visit Riyadh since the murder of Khashoggi. The visiting leader met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in Riyadh yesterday. 

According to the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman also attended the meeting yesterday. The agency also said that Saudi Arabia and the UK signed an agreement to set up a strategic partnership council. 

During Johnson’s visit to the UAE, he met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ). The discussion covered efforts to collaborate on energy security, defence, and trade. 

Describing his visit to two OPEC countries, Johnson tweeted: “I’m visiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are key partners in ensuring regional security and stabilizing global energy markets after Russia’s unprecedented, brutal and illegal invasion.”

Oil prices have soared to $140 per barrel and then dipped below $100. 

Rights groups and activists have questioned the British leader’s visit to Riyadh. 

When asked about human rights issues in the Gulf country, the Prime Minister before landing in Riyadh said “I’ve raised all those issues many, many times over in the past and I’ll raise them all again today.”

“But we have long, long-standing relationships with this part of the world and we need to recognize the very important relationship that we have and not just in hydrocarbons.”