Warplanes roared overhead, tanks rumbled across the desert and smoke filled the sky on Thursday during the final stage of what Saudi Arabia said were the region’s biggest ever military exercises.

Nearly 350,000 ground troops from 20 nations in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, including the UAE, took part in the last day of the so-called “Northern Thunder” manoeuvres. The exercises, which took place in the desert near to the Kuwaiti and Iraq borders, began 12 days ago.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, joined Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to attend the conclusion of the manoeuvres. […]