A ‘flying car’ built by Chinese company Xpen Aeroht made its first public flight in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October 2022. A few months earlier, China’s NWTN — a passenger transport company — announced that it would build an electric vehicle facility in Abu Dhabi. These technological headways show that US efforts to convince Gulf allies to restrict China’s influence have been unsuccessful.
Across the UAE’s borders, Huawei and the Saudi Digital Academy agreed in 2022 to advance local technological talent and realise the digital transformation — the use of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity and 5G — envisioned in Saudi Vision 2030, Riyadh’s blueprint for economic diversification. Despite US President Joe Biden explicitly arguing in July 2022 that improving US–Saudi relations is essential to ‘outcompete China’, it will be an uphill task with the intensification of the Gulf–China synergy.