The United Arab Emirates is a small, oil-rich Persian Gulf nation with outsize global influence where officials are keen to maintain relations with competing powers, including the United States, China, Russia and Iran. It has led the way among Arab countries in re-establishing ties with Mr. al-Assad’s government and reopened its embassy in Syria in 2018.
The visit to Abu Dhabi is “an affirmation of Syria’s restoration of its role,” Mr. Dakhlallah said. “It is still in the early steps, but it has begun.”
Saudi Arabia, the regional political heavyweight, has yet to follow suit. When the uprising began, the kingdom initially supported rebel groups fighting against Mr. al-Assad’s government forces. But when the earthquake struck, the kingdom sent planes filled with aid to both Syrian government-controlled and opposition-controlled territories.
At a conference in Germany last month, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, acknowledged that Arab countries had reached an “impasse” with the Syrian government and that the stalemate was doing little to alleviate the suffering of Syrians in Syria or abroad.
“There is a consensus within the Arab world that the status quo is not working and that we need to find some other approach,” he said. “What that approach is, it is still being formulated.”
Vivian Nereim reported from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Hwaida Saad from Beirut. Ahmed Al Omran contributed reporting from Hofuf, Saudi Arabia.