UAE and France: Strong Relations

  • 21 May 2008

Yesterday, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, began a two-day official visit to the Republic of France. His Highness is heading a delegation of high-level UAE officials, which underscores the significance of the visit and highlights the current progress in UAE– French relations. Additionally, the visit demonstrates the will of both sides to further promote and advance their relations at the highest levels. In this context, we would like to mention the previous visit of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, to Paris in July 2006. That visit reflected the great keenness on both sides to further enhance relations. Statistics indicate that trade between the two countries currently stands at AED 15 billion, with the French investment in the UAE standing at about AED 3 billion. Moreover, both countries have signed several economic, cultural and political agreements between themselves.

Undoubtedly, the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed showcases the basic features of the UAE's foreign policy that seeks to diversify its relations and alliances at the international level, which is a crucial facet considering the times we live in. This reality makes it necessary for all countries to forge multi-dimensional relations with other states. The UAE has established strong and enduring relations with France because of a variety of factors. First, France is one of the most important members of the European Union (EU), and an active and influential power on the world stage. It is also one of the five countries with permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Second, in spite of all the achievements of the UAE–French relations, there are still many untapped opportunities for cooperation in other many vital areas. France may benefit from the UAE as an international financial and touristic hub in the Middle East. On the other hand, the UAE may benefit from advanced French technology to support its current comprehensive and integrated development plans.

This visit also reflects the dynamism of the UAE foreign policy in all its aspects, and helps in expanding new horizons that represent a rise in the country’s role on the world stage. The UAE's sustainable and comprehensive development qualifies it to be an active and effective member of the international community. There are many indicators that confirm the high status of its development. For example, the country has recently played host to many important international events and has been the haunt of various world leaders and top officials, such as the US President George W. Bush, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the former Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This historic visit of Sheikh Mohamed to Paris ushers in a wide range of joint ventures between the UAE and France. It presents an excellent opportunity for strengthening relations between Abu Dhabi and Paris, within the framework of existing cooperation agreements that link both sides. Since its foundation in 1971, the UAE has forged genuine friendship and strong cooperation with France. Over time, these relations have improved and deepened as a result of the political will present among leadership of both countries. Friendship between Abu Dhabi and Paris has directly contributed to enhancement of the cooperation at the highest levels.