Solid UAE-Mauritania Ties Set to Strengthen Further

Since its establishment, the UAE has been committed to strengthening relations with the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, based on its deep Arab roots, which are integral to its foreign policies. This was recently praised by Sidi Mohamed Ould Taleb Amar, Head of the Union for the Republic, the ruling party in Mauritania, in an article published in Al-Ittihad newspaper on August 20, 2020.

Ould Taleb Amar noted in his article, ‘Mauritania-UAE Relations: A Rich Past and a Promising Future,’ that his country's relations with the UAE are built on two solid foundations. First, the development of bilateral relations between two identical nations in terms of character and values, tied together by the bonds of religion, language, identity and destiny. Second, the coordination of the foreign policy positions of the two countries, according to the requirements of protecting and serving Arab and Islamic causes. In 1973, just two years after the establishment of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God rest his soul in peace) began to consolidate relations with Mauritania on solid foundations of cooperation and coordination. He used to praise the courteousness of Mauritanians, which he in turn reciprocated with great nobility.

In his article, Ould Taleb Amar referred to Sheikh Zayed's first official visit to Mauritania on August 13, 1974, which he says had a profound impact on laying strong foundations for relations between the two countries. During this time, relations were strengthened and developed at all levels, and became a pioneering model for ideal bilateral relations between Arab countries. These relations were developed further until they led to more joint cooperation in all fields, including police missions, education, justice, security escorts and livestock development.

Since the end of the 1970s, the UAE has been committed to providing wide ranging developmental support to Mauritania. The UAE granted a loan of AED 40 million to Mauritania in 1979 for the development of a national road, while the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development provided a loan of AED 24 million in 1980 to finance agricultural projects, along with another loan of AED 43 million by the Abu Dhabi government in the same year, for investment in the Senegal River. A clearer example of fraternity between both countries was embodied in Sheikh Zayed’s $1.5 million grant to Mauritania, to build the second-largest hospital in the country in 2000. The Sheikh Zayed Hospital in the capital, Nouakchott, continues to provide treatment to low-income Mauritanians and was expanded in 2017 with another grant from the UAE.

Even after the death of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE continued to expand its relations with Mauritania. Ould Taleb Amar refers, in his article, to an occasion when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai (may God protect him), and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (may God protect him), received His Excellency Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, President of Mauritania last February. This visit was a significant indication of the solid brotherly relations between the two countries, as the UAE was the first Arab country to be visited by the Mauritanian president since he was elected.

This visit was also an important sign that the UAE is still committed to supporting Mauritanians. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE (may God protect him), and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (may God protect him), the day after the visit, announced development and investment projects in Mauritania worth $2 billion, or around a third of the country’s entire GDP.

Ould Taleb Amar believes the results of that visit affirm the UAE's well known and unwavering support for Mauritania. It led to the signing of agreements and memoranda of understanding to enhance and diversify cooperation between both countries. This will include reciprocal visa exemptions, as well as cooperation in educational, military, technical, security, development, investment, humanitarian and social welfare sectors. The loan provided significant support to the Mauritanian economy during a difficult period, and reflected a living example of the best model for integration and fraternity between brotherly countries. The economic relations between the two countries have seen significant development for several years. The volume of trade exchanged between them amounts to around $325 million, and the UAE's investments in Mauritania increased in several areas, particularly in the agricultural sector. This is in addition to the UAE’s financing of many development projects in Mauritania in areas of transportation, energy, mineral industries and services.

Politically, both countries have preserved their relationship based on the coordination of issues of common interest, which have been strengthened remarkably in recent years. Ould Taleb Amar spoke about this in his article. He said that UAE-Mauritania relations have been built on mutual respect and cooperation, and identical visions and positions toward all Arab, regional and international issues. He explained how the UAE is entrusted with the decisions it takes for the benefit of Arab and Islamic issues, because of its sound judgment and management in protecting its interests and those of its allies. He added that “the UAE is one of the brotherly countries most determined to restore the Palestinians' uncompromised rights, through establishing an independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The UAE-Mauritania relationship has also seen significant cooperation in military and security areas, as both countries have a common vision for combating terrorism and organized crime. The Mohamed bin Zayed Defense College, the first of its kind in Mauritania, was funded by the UAE and is a hub for training military officers in the G5 Sahel, an institutional framework for the coordination of regional cooperation in development policies and security matters between five countries in West Africa. As part of the Sahel area, which is facing security challenges such as terrorism, illegal immigration and smuggling, as well as great economic and agricultural pressures, Mauritania relies on continuous cooperation with the UAE to maintain security.

Speaking about the promising future prospects for the exceptional relations between the two countries, Ould Taleb Amar said they would protect both countries, and the region, from the threats posed by changes in the international arena, based on a legacy of trust and mutual collaboration. The UAE is already doing well in this regard. It has never failed to support Mauritania in facing any challenge. This was evident in April, when the UAE sent an aircraft loaded with 18 tons of medical and food supplies to Mauritania, as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid benefitted 10,000 healthcare professionals and was followed in June by another aircraft loaded with 18 tons of medical and food supplies, which supported more than 14,000 healthcare professionals in their efforts to contain the pandemic ravaging the world.