Gulf – Central Asian partnership is on the rise
    Global uncertainty

    ANALYTICS  22 April 2024 - 16:55

    Fuad Shahbazov

    The year 2023 marked the launch of a new era of engagement between the Persian Gulf and Central Asian states, which was launched this month, surprisingly promoting investments that diversify both regions away from oil and gas. Last year, ministers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) landed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to discuss new fields of partnership. Indeed, the wealthy Gulf monarchies’ flood to the landlocked Central Asian region boosted optimism regarding the flow of additional investments in infrastructure projects. 

    Consequently, the eruption of the Russo-Ukraine war steadily weakened Russia’s position in the Central Asian region, which it long considered its sphere of influence. As such, non-regional actors like the Gulf states, the United States (US), Türkiye, and the European Union (EU) sought to establish a permanent footprint in an energy-rich region. Disruptions to traditional Russian supply chains and to trade routes that run through Russia, as well as the sight of some one million Russians passing through Central Asia in 2022 en route to third countries to escape conscription or persecution for anti-war sentiment were cause for Central Asian governments to reassess their relationship with Russia and seek alternative partners.

    Central Asia, richly endowed with vital energy commodities, both hydrocarbons and rare earth elements, plays a crucial role in the world’s green energy transformation. These abundant resources have given the C5 nations a key role to play in 21st-century energy development. As a result, Central Asia has rapidly become a focal point of great power competition due to its strategic position in the middle of the Eurasian landmass. In a significant move, the president of Kazakhstan, Kassym Jomart Tokayev, visited Doha on March 15, 2024, to highlight Kazakhstan’s readiness to increase exports to Qatar across 60 non-resource commodity items totalling $250 million and proposed increasing mutual trade to $500 million in the near future. This visit, marking 30 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, underscored Kazakhstan’s commitment to expanding its relationship with the Gulf states. 

    The GCC countries’ growing interest in Central Asia is partly an attempt to contain their regional rivals, Iran and Turkiye. Iran shares half of its borders with states in Central Asia and is a natural geographical hub linking the region to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf. Iran and Tajikistan engaged in high-level diplomacy after both the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which led to a significant expansion in bilateral military and defence cooperation. The US, EU, and Türkiye are eager to maintain a long-term presence in the region by establishing strong economic partnerships with the regional states and involving in mega-infrastructure projects. 

    The growing interest of the wealthy and economically developed Gulf states in Central Asia is not just a strategic move, but also a reflection of their keenness to invest in the green energy field. This interest aligns perfectly with the energy potential of the Central Asian region, particularly in the case of two leading countries, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. For instance, in 2023, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned ACWA Power pledged a substantial US$13.5 billion in investments in Kazakhstan’s and Uzbekistan’s clean-energy sectors. The UAE’s state-owned Masdar has also made significant investments in Uzbekistan’s solar- and wind energy sectors, which now have a combined production capacity of nearly 1 gigawatt (GW) annually. 

    The recent push towards regional engagement comes as new leaders in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan pursue economic reforms and a more open foreign policy amidst increasing consensus that many of the challenges—from water security to transit logistics—faced by each country in Central Asia require transnational solutions.

    Given the interest of the Gulf in partnership with Central Asia, the regional leaders all have visited the Gulf region since February 2022, while some of the presidents have also journeyed to Saudi Arabia for other international conferences in the past two years. The engagement of Central Asian states with different non-regional actors enables them to get involved in bigger projects without the control of China or Russia. In this context, the GCC partnership model is viable as it does not put any limit on regional countries. 

    Therefore, it is likely that the GCC will seek to double the trade turnover with the Central Asian region in the coming years to establish a permanent presence and expand geopolitical influence. 


    Subscribe to our Telegram channel

Read also

Momentum surges as Chinese trucks embark on Azerbaijan's Middle Corridor journey Driving towards success

25 May 2024 - 11:21

Amid regional tension & domestic opposition, Armenia returns occupied villages to Azerbaijan after 30 years Historic handover sets stage for peace talks

25 May 2024 - 09:17

Azerbaijan, Tajikistan elevate bilateral relations through strategic partnership agreements

24 May 2024 - 13:00

Tensions run high between the Pashinyan government & the Armenian Apostolic Church Government's vision vs. Church-led opposition

24 May 2024 - 09:35

IAEA ignores nuclear dangers of Armenia's aging Metsamor NPP Double standards

25 May 2024 - 12:28

Israel faces dual threat: Potential two-front war and refugee crisis Axis of Resistance ramps up attacks

23 May 2024 - 18:10
Latest news

    Putin applauds Azerbaijan's well-deserved prestige on the world stage

    In congratulatory letter to President Aliyev

    25 May 2024 - 13:04

    China ends war games, Taiwan details warplane, warship surge

    25 May 2024 - 13:04

    The Guardian: After Macron’s visit, New Caledonia’s Kanak demand their own future

    "Not our president"

    25 May 2024 - 12:52

    NATO chief wants to free Ukraine to strike hard inside Russia

    25 May 2024 - 12:40

    IAEA ignores nuclear dangers of Armenia's aging Metsamor NPP

    Double standards

    25 May 2024 - 12:28

    Egypt agrees to resume aid to Gaza through Israel after US pressure

    25 May 2024 - 12:16

    Musk reveals "tough problem" battling Russian jamming efforts on Starlink

    Amid Ukraine war

    25 May 2024 - 12:06

    King Charles III expresses hope for continued UK-Azerbaijan collaboration on key global matters

    25 May 2024 - 11:58

    Azerbaijani Army's engineering units excel in combat training sessions

    25 May 2024 - 11:56

    Media: Pashinyan considered imposing state of emergency

    25 May 2024 - 11:44

    Türkiye achieves 5 million cubic meters per day in Black Sea gas production

    25 May 2024 - 11:32

    Momentum surges as Chinese trucks embark on Azerbaijan's Middle Corridor journey

    Driving towards success

    25 May 2024 - 11:21

    Media: Armenian PM's helicopter makes emergency landing

    25 May 2024 - 11:12

    NATO forming network of cyber labs along Russia's borders - Foreign Ministry

    25 May 2024 - 11:07

    Russia downs three Ukrainian drones over Belgorod, Kursk regions

    25 May 2024 - 10:54

    Ukraine aid from Russian assets moving forward in G-7 draft

    25 May 2024 - 10:42

    Another migration caravan left for Azerbaijan’s Shusha


    25 May 2024 - 10:28

    Erdogan greenlights revisions to Azerbaijan-Türkiye trade agreement

    25 May 2024 - 10:16

    Armenia detains alleged "mayors" of formerly occupied Azerbaijani towns

    25 May 2024 - 10:13

    Azerbaijan increases reconstruction budget for liberated territories by 27%

    25 May 2024 - 10:04

    US introduces legislation proposing sanctions against Georgia

    25 May 2024 - 09:52

    Armenian border guards secure delimited section of border with Azerbaijan

    Pashinyan addresses to nation

    25 May 2024 - 09:40

    Azerbaijan boosts defence, national security budget by 11%

    25 May 2024 - 09:28

    Amid regional tension & domestic opposition, Armenia returns occupied villages to Azerbaijan after 30 years

    Historic handover sets stage for peace talks

    25 May 2024 - 09:17

    Azerbaijani Parliament issues formal protest to Czech Republic

    25 May 2024 - 09:07

    Bhutan turns to "Gross National Happiness 2.0" as crisis deepens

    25 May 2024 - 09:07

    Replicator drones already being delivered

    Pentagon says

    25 May 2024 - 07:03

    Juneau inventor wants to bring ocean energy to your outlets

    25 May 2024 - 05:04

    European Commission president backs Polish, Greek calls for EU air defense shield

    25 May 2024 - 03:05

    Korea invents new fuel we don’t know about in US

    goodbye to refueling gasoline

    25 May 2024 - 01:03

    Why US semiconductor export controls backfire?

    24 May 2024 - 23:00

    COP29 presidency hosts international diplomatic corps in Lachin

    Climate Action Dialogue event

    24 May 2024 - 22:36

    US delegation visits Lachin, Shusha, applauds reconstruction efforts


    24 May 2024 - 21:04

    NATO summit to be held in Hague in 2025

    24 May 2024 - 20:52

    Turkish president calls for UN reform amid global crises

    24 May 2024 - 20:39

    Azerbaijani, German top diplomats focus on peace process between Baku, Yerevan

    24 May 2024 - 20:24

    Armenian premier to address the nation

    24 May 2024 - 20:24

    Russian FM remains vague on reasons for ambassador's recall from Armenia

    24 May 2024 - 20:12

    Hungarian water quality control technology to be implemented in Azerbaijan

    24 May 2024 - 19:57

    Six new enterprises set to launch in Aghdam industrial park by year-end

    24 May 2024 - 19:42

All news