Coronavirus crisis 'could help ease Gulf tensions' – UAE

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.

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.

With the virus being a common enemy for everyone, Dr Gargash said he was hopeful it could lead to a de-escalation of some of the regional disputes and tensions that have dogged the region.

Dr Gargash believes the pandemic will lead to greater investment in healthcare technology - including Artifical Intelligence - but also to austerity. "The biggest challenge is going to be an economic one. We have had the double-hit of the pandemic and falling oil prices." Governments in the region, he says, will be judged on how they manage the coming austerity measures.