Important UAE-France Relations

  • 16 December 2010

The visit to France of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, and his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy marks yet another milestone in the progress made in the UAE-French relationship at all levels. UAE Foreign Minister His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan aptly described it when he said that despite the cold weather in Paris the meeting between His Highness and the French President was warm and cordial. Relations between the UAE and the French Republic are a model of comprehensive ties based on understanding and common objectives. They have made progress not only on the political and economic fields but also on cultural and scientific areas. This multi-pronged nature of relationship strengthens the two sides and makes it look like a strategic partnership.

What distinguishes the UAE-French relationship is the mutual keenness on both the sides to strengthen cooperation at all times. This is evident in the intensity of political, economic and cultural interactions that take place at the highest levels between the two countries. From the UAE’s side, the visit of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Paris in July 2007 stands out besides regular visits of high ranking Emirati officials to the country to discuss issues of common concern. There is no better evidence of the important position the UAE occupies in the French policy towards the Gulf and the Middle East than the two visits of the French President – January 2008 and May 2009 – since he became the President of the Republic in 2007.

Aside from the outstanding political relations the two sides share strong economic ties. Statistics reveal that the volume of French investments in the UAE is around half of its investments in the Gulf region and the trade exchange has also witnessed continuous progress. At the cultural level, references are made about Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi and the Paris Sorbonne – Abu Dhabi University. These not only confirm UAE’s deep interest in French culture but also demonstrate an investment into cultural spheres to further strengthen the bond with France.

The UAE is the current chairman of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) while France is preparing to chair the Group of Eight (G-8) and the Group of Twenty (G-20) countries. This gives special significance to the discussions between the two sides and increases the importance of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed’s visit to Paris with regard to its timing. The overwhelming welcome accorded to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed by the French President and other French officials as well as the warmth experienced during this visit reiterate the prestigious position that the UAE occupies on the international arena and the international respect it enjoys, thanks to its wise policies and a pioneering model of development.