Bush Visit and UAE-American Relations

  • 13 January 2008

US President George Bush’s visit to the UAE today holds special significance in the context of the strong and still developing relations between the two countries for several important reasons. Relations between the UAE and the US are historic and based on deep understanding between the two sides. The US was the first country to recognize the formation of the Federation of the UAE in 1971. Since then, relations between the two sides have been based on mutual respect and cooperation in various spheres. In this context, the important visit of our President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to the US in 1998 is of historic significance. In addition, the visit made by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in 2007 is highly noteworthy. During that visit, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met President Bush and other high-ranking US officials. For its part, the UAE also frequently welcomes US officials and has become an important destination in their visits to the Middle East and Gulf regions.

The second important fact here is that the UAE-US relations are comprehensive in their scope. In addition to the very special political ties, one finds strong economic bond between the two countries. The UAE was considered the most important trading partner of the United States in the Middle East in 2006. The volume of trade between the two countries amounts to US$ 13 billion, as revealed by the UAE Foreign Minister, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In addition, statistics reveal that about 750 US companies operate in the UAE, and there are many spheres of economic cooperation between the two countries.

The third important aspect relates to the way the US views the UAE, with respect to its importance in the Gulf region, the Arab World and the Middle East. The fact that US President Bush chose to make his highly important statement at the forum organized today by the ECSSR proves this point. Analysts consider that Bush chose Abu Dhabi to make his statement because he considers the place to be a “model emulated in the Arab world.” The fourth consideration is that Bush’s visit to the UAE is taking place, as one finds several critical issues facing the Gulf and Middle East. The UAE has its own outlook on these issues and on the ways for dealing with them. The US is always mindful of this outlook and is open to discussion. This fact is manifest by the exchange of visits to find solutions to regional problems.