The Saudi Arabian government has taken a significant step towards joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional alliance dominated by China and Russia. During a cabinet meeting presided over by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, a memorandum was approved to initiate dialogue with the SCO. The decision to pursue membership was reportedly raised during a visit to Saudi Arabia by Chinese President Xi Jinping in December of last year.
According to sources, the decision to pursue dialogue partner status with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is seen as the first step towards eventual full membership for Saudi Arabia. This decision was made after Saudi Aramco’s announcement of increased investment in China, including a joint venture in northeast China and acquiring a stake in a privately owned petrochemical group. The growing relationship between Riyadh and Beijing has caused concern in Washington, which sees Chinese influence as a threat to U.S. interests. However, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have expressed worries about the United States’ perceived disengagement from the region and are seeking to expand their partnerships. The U.S. has stated its intention to remain an active player in the Middle East despite these concerns.
About the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established in June 2001 by China, Russia, and several Central Asian countries including Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. It is an alliance that focuses on politics, economics, and security in the Eurasian region and is currently the largest regional organization in the world. The SCO consists of eight full members, four observer states, and several dialogue partners, including Turkey. In 2017, Pakistan and India were granted full membership. Iran, an SCO observer state since June 2005, was granted permanent membership in September 2021, and a year later, signed a memorandum of commitment to formally join as a full member.
Important takeaways for all competitive exams:
- Saudi Arabia Capital: Riyadh;
- Saudi Arabia Currency: Saudi Riyal.
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