x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The UAE and UK strengthen a vital partnership

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Declaration is representative of a vibrant strategic partnership with the UK that has the potential not only to deliver real benefits to our two countries but to strengthen our ability to provide joint leadership on matters of global significance.

Today, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague and I will sign the 2010 Abu Dhabi Declaration, reaffirming the 1971 Treaty of Friendship between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

This is much more than ceremonial. It is representative of a vibrant strategic partnership that has the potential not only to deliver real benefits to our two countries but to strengthen our ability to provide joint leadership on matters of global significance.

The strength and vitality of our relationship with the UK has been an important driver in the UAE's development ever since Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and former President of the UAE, signed the original Treaty of Friendship in December 1971.

Today, there are more than 100,000 Britons living and working in the UAE. In four short decades our country has been transformed and the British have played an important role, helping to build our society and economy and in many cases making the UAE their long-term home.

At the same time, the UAE has been making an increasing contribution to life in Britain: tens of thousands of Emiratis visit the UK each year; we have collaborations with leading British institutions in education, health and culture, among many other areas; and we have diverse investments in the UK.

For example, the Abu Dhabi based company Masdar has a significant stake in the London Array, the world's biggest offshore wind project. And DP World's £1.5 billion London Gateway project to build a deep-sea port and logistics park outside London will create 36,000 new jobs in the UK, 700 of them by the end of this year. It is the largest job creation project in Britain today.

The partnership has therefore progressed enormously since Her Majesty's last visit to the UAE, in 1979. Nevertheless there are a number of areas where it should develop further. Let me focus on three of the most important.

First, we need to increase bilateral trade and investment. In 2009, trade between the UAE and the UK equaled Dh40 billion and we have agreed to an ambitious target for trade to reach Dh65 billion by 2015. Both Governments are working hard to facilitate this. In the months ahead we will be bringing business leaders together to explore opportunities in sectors such as energy, defence, tourism, aviation and finance.

We also need to work together as global advocates of free trade. As trading nations, the UAE and the UK have long understood the value of free trade. We need to take every opportunity to act as strong voices countering any trend towards rising protectionism.

The second area in which we should deepen cooperation is energy, building on our long and valued partnerships with BP and Shell in oil and gas. The UAE recognises that the threat from climate change is real and grave, which is why we are investing heavily in renewable technologies and pioneering the world's first carbon neutral, zero waste city. We are also hosting the new International Renewable Energy Agency, the World Future Energy Summit and the next Clean Energy Ministerial meeting.

The UK government is working very closely with us on these projects but in the end the innovation will come from partnerships between UAE and British clean energy companies. Masdar is joining with BP to build an industrial scale hydrogen-fuelled power plant, including CO2 capture. We want to see more of this kind of collaboration.

The third vital area for a strategic partnership is in promoting stability and security. Security starts at home, and we need ever stronger military cooperation. Our intelligence sharing showed its value recently when it helped to locate bombs in airplanes originating in Yemen. This cooperation should and will continue.

Together we are also taking the initiative in supporting stability in other countries. The UAE is a full partner in the international coalition in Afghanistan and we have joined with the UK and others to initiate the Friends of Democratic Pakistan and Friends of Yemen diplomatic processes. The UAE and the UK should make it a priority to collaborate in supporting a just and comprehensive resolution to the Middle East Peace Process and in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In doing all of this we must stand shoulder to shoulder against the shrill voices of violent extremists and ensure that openness and tolerance prevails. Our cultures may be different but many of our deepest values are truly shared.

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Declaration is therefore more than just a piece of paper. It is a firm commitment to joint action. Properly invested in and nurtured, this modern partnership that is rooted in unique friendship will not only bring great benefits to our countries' citizens but will contribute to making the world a safer and more prosperous place for everyone.

 

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates