The BRICS group will double its membership on January 1, as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia join the alliance, South Africa’s envoy to the bloc has confirmed, according to a Bloomberg report.

The five existing members of the alliance, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, had invited six new countries to join the group last August. Out of the six states, only Argentina declined.

This month, representatives from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia attended a BRICS sherpa gathering in Durban, South Africa, indicating that the five states “have accepted the invitation” to join the bloc, Anil Sooklal, Pretoria’s ambassador to the group, told Bloomberg.

The five countries are also expected to send their representatives to another sherpa meeting in Moscow on January 30.

Last August, the UAE announced it is joining the group after a successful application, citing that its decision to become a member reflects the country’s keenness to “champion the value of multilateralism”.

“This development forms part of the UAE’s commitment to promoting constructive dialogue through active platforms that represent developing and emerging economies,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, had said.

“The UAE has consistently championed the value of multilateralism in supporting peace, security and development globally.”

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)