Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 September 2020

French ambassador: after three years in the UAE, it's time to say goodbye

The past few years have witnessed tremendous achievements in the bilateral relationship between France and the UAE

After three memorable years, a period during which I had the privilege and honour to serve as the ambassador of France to the UAE, the time has come for me to say goodbye.

My years here have been so intense that it is hard to summarise them in a few lines.

My most vivid memory remains the inauguration of Louvre Abu Dhabi in November 2017, in the presence of Emmanuel Macron, the French President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice-President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

This architectural masterpiece is, from my point of view, much more than a museum. It is a symbol of the dialogue that exists between cultures and civilisations that the region so deeply needs. Having often had the chance to walk under the museum’s dome, I must concede that I have always been moved and impressed by the bold universal message it conveys to the world. I am also proud of the French contribution to this unique masterpiece.

The past few years have witnessed tremendous achievements in the bilateral relationship between France and the UAE, in areas ranging from the economy to culture, through security, education and the promotion of French and Arabic languages. This is the outcome of the determination of our two nations to strengthen their partnership. The list of accomplishments is long but I would like to commend some of them. Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi is a world-class institution that has emerged as a cultural and scientific hub in the Gulf region.

Our partnership also finds its physical manifestation in France, following the reopening in 2019 of an architectural jewel: the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Imperial Theatre in the Palace of Fontainebleau. We celebrated the 10th anniversary of our defence agreements. We also secured key partnerships in various sectors, including oil and gas, nuclear and renewable energy, transportation, space and artificial intelligence.

Today, I can surely say that, thanks to an ambitious vision shared between the two countries, this relationship is exceptional and nothing short of a benchmark for global co-operation. And yet, we are not content sitting on our laurels.

Louvre Abu Dhabi is open with social distancing measures in place. Courtesy Hufton + Crow
Louvre Abu Dhabi is open with social distancing measures in place. Courtesy Hufton + Crow

Last June, our two countries endorsed a roadmap for the new decade of strategic partnership and I am proud of the role we at the embassy played to make it happen. France and the UAE are committed towards building a promising future that is based on development, cultural exchanges, knowledge creation and innovation, while paying attention to the issue of climate change.

At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in our interconnected systems, France and the UAE have demonstrated a shared will to tackle these challenges by exploring new opportunities of co-operation in the field of health.

Our two countries are focused on developing partnerships in healthcare, research and pharmaceutical sectors. Even as we face an uncertain future, we must understand that collaboration and innovation are needed now more than ever.

Thanks to an ambitious vision shared between the two countries, this relationship is exceptional and nothing short of a benchmark for global co-operation

And I am absolutely convinced that the Dubai Expo, now scheduled to begin in October 2021, will be the central and inspirational platform for the global response to these very challenging times.

Rest assured that France, alongside the UAE, will remain committed to finding solutions to global issues such as environment, poverty, women’s empowerment, regional security and the fight against terrorism and extremism.

Today, as it is time for me to say goodbye to this country, which I will deeply miss, allow me to conclude by saying how much I have been impressed by the dynamism of the UAE’s leadership and its exceptional people. Thank you for always extending a warm welcome to me.

I want to conclude by congratulating the country’s leaders for the visionary choices they have made over the years, counting on their youth and creativity to build the future of their nation. It is a vision that France shares, too. Together I hope the two countries will continue building this most promising partnership. I truly believe that, for us now, space is the limit.

Ludovic Pouille is France’s outgoing ambassador to the UAE

Updated: September 14, 2020 03:21 PM

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