MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The exercise, codenamed "Ra'ad Al-Shamal" (Northern Thunder), will include air, land and sea forces from "Islamic and friendly countries," the national Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said Sunday.
The drills were set to begin in "the next few hours," according to the Sunday report. They will bring together Gulf Arab countries, as well as Jordan, Senegal, Sudan, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Tunisia, Comoros, Djibouti, Malaysia, Egypt, Mauritania, and Mauritius.
The state news agency said the drills would send a "a clear message" that Saudi Arabia and its allies "stand united to confront all challenges and maintain peace and stability in the region."
The drills come amid rising tensions in the region over the wars in Syria, Yemen and the recent breakdown in Saudi-Iranian diplomatic ties that saw regional powers split along the lines of Sunni-Shiite religious divide.