Saudi Arabia has joined the BRICS bloc of nations, which includes Russia, India and China, as the kingdom continues to shift away from its older Western allegiances.
Saudi state TV said on Tuesday that the kingdom had officially joined the bloc, which Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said was “a beneficial and important channel” to strengthen economic and political cooperation.
The BRICs bloc also includes Brazil and South Africa but is set to double in size with Saudi joining the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia as new members.
Saudi Arabia’s entry comes amid geopolitical tensions between the US and China, and the expansion of China’s influence within the kingdom.
Despite continued strong ties with the US, Saudi Arabia has increasingly pursued its own path out of concern that Washington is less committed to the Gulf’s security than in the past.
China, Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil customer, has led calls for the BRICs to expand to become a counterweight to the West.
The expansion could amplify the group’s declared ambition to become a champion of the Global South, although Argentina signalled in November it would not take up an invitation to join.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara