United States and United Arab Emirates Relations: An Overview
Dignitaries from the United Arab Emirates such as Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba and his predecessors have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with dignitaries from the United States since the early 1970s. In 1971, President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan joined six independent states to form the UAE. One year later, Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital city, established a U.S. Embassy, which served as an official conduit of communication between the two countries.
In 1974, this act was reciprocated, and a U.S. Embassy opened in Washington, D.C. By the dawn of the 1980s, the UAE and U.S. had initiated thriving lines of commerce, enabling U.S. companies to have involvement in the UAE’S oil industry and the opening of Dubai’s General Motors Middle East. The year 1984 saw the UAE support the U.S. in its Iran-Iraq War efforts. Following this camaraderie, the UAE declared official support of all U.S. troops and allowed free passage to foreign ships traversing the Gulf.
The two countries continued to support and protect one another into the 1990s. After Iraq invaded Kuwait, Abu Dhabi worked with the U.S. to provide financial aid and logistics information throughout Operation Desert Storm. More U.S. business made its way into the UAE with the opening of the McDonald’s franchise, introducing citizens to one of their ally’s most popular fast food chains. As the UAE continued to broaden its cultural horizons with increased educational opportunities, the first American institution of higher learning, the American University in Dubai, was established.
The 2000s began with various UAE and U.S. cities such as Abu Dhabi and Houston and Dubai and Detroit, becoming sister cities to one another. The U.S. displayed deep respects when His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan passed away in 2004. Colin Powell, then U.S. Secretary of State, spoke highly of His Highness, remembering his generosity and support of the U.S. over the years.
Given the strong foundations between the two countries in business, recreation, and politics, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and other government officials predict the U.S. and UAE will continue their prosperous relations well into the 21st century and beyond.