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Probe underway after Saudi oil tankers came under ‘sabotage attack’ off Fujairah

UAE on Sunday said the sabotage targeted four ships off the coast of Fujairah

Published:  May 13, 2019 09:26 Last updated:  May 13, 2019 22:12Gulf News Web Report

An Emirati coast guard vessel passes an oil tanker off the coast of Fujairah.Image Credit: AP


  • Four commercial cargo ships were subjected to sabotage operations on Sunday, May 12, near UAE territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of Fujairah.
  • The concerned authorities have taken all necessary measures and are investigating the incident in cooperation with local and international bodies.
  • No injuries or fatalities on board the vessels reported; no spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel.

Dubai: The UAE has ordered a probe into the sabotage operation against four vessels off its coast on Sunday, with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash saying the investigation was being conducted professionally and all facts will be uncovered. “The UAE received great support following the deliberate sabotage of four vessels in our territorial waters. This is the result of the UAE’s positive attitudes and support for peace and stability worldwide,” Gargash tweeted.

“We have made our great friendships by virtue of our transparency and our positions. The investigation is underway and running professionally, and everything will come to light and we’ll uncover all facts.”

Underlying the regional risk, the GCC secretary-general described the sabotage as a “serious escalation” in an overnight statement. “Such irresponsible acts will increase tension and conflicts in the region and expose its peoples to great danger,” Abdul Lateef Al Zayani said.

Sabotage attack on commercial shipsImage Credit: AP, Bloomberg, Reuters/Gulf News

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Yemen’s internationally-recognised government similarly condemned the attacks.

Analysts told Gulf News that they suspected Iran of being behind the operation. “…[L]ooking closer at the timing and location of the incident shows that Iran is likely behind it,” said Mohammad Abbas Naji, an expert in Iranian affairs at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Strategic Studies Centre. “These sabotage incidents follow continuous Iranian threats to interrupt oil shipments from the region to the international markets.”

Riyad Qahwaji, CEO of Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis said that the opeartion “could be a message from Iran to the international community that it is serious in its threats. It could also be an attempt to gauge the reaction and see how serious the US and its allies in the region are about dealing with an escalating Iranian policy”.

‘Sabotage attack’

Dubai: Two Saudi oil tankers came under “sabotage attack” off the UAE coast, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday, quoting the Saudi energy minister.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid Al Falih added that the tankers sustained “significant damage”.

He said the two tankers were targeted off the coast of Fujairah.

He said one tanker was en route to Ras Tanura port to get loaded with oil before it headed to the US. According to the Saudi minister “Fortunately, the attack didn’t lead to any casualties or oil spill” however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels.”

The Saudi minister also emphasised the joint responsibility of the international community to protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, as these incidents pose a danger to energy markets and the global economy.

The UAE on Sunday said an alleged sabotage attack targeted four boats, without elaborating or naming suspects.

The UAE on Sunday said that four civilian commercial cargo ships have been subjected to sabotage operations near the country’s territorial waters, east of the emirate of Fujairah, near regional waters and in the UAE’s economic waters, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) said on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia stands by UAE after attacks on tankers

Saudi Arabia expressed support on Monday for the United Arab Emirates, following the attacks off the UAE coast, according to Saudi foreign ministry statement.

The attacks constitute a “dangerous threat to the safety of navigation and affects negatively regional and international security,” the ministry added.


Fujairah port is one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital corridor for the global oil market.

Maritime Alert

The US has issued a new alert to maritime traffic over alleged “acts of sabotage” of ships off the coast of the UAE amid heightened regional tensions between America and Iran.

The US Maritime Administration, which stressing the incidents had not been confirmed, warned shippers early on Monday to exercise caution when travelling past Fujairah, a port city on the eastern edge of the UAE on the Gulf of Oman.

It gave co-ordinates of the alleged sabotage, putting it just north of Fujairah.