Ambassador of the UAE to the US


AmCham Abu Dhabi Identifies UAE and US Sectors to Boost Trade

Over 200 business executives, academics, entrepreneurs, and government officials convened in Abu Dhabi last month for AmCham Abu Dhabi’s 8th annual RoundTable Summit.

As an official member of the American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Abu Dhabi is a non-profit organization that strives to promote commerce and investment between the US, Abu Dhabi, the members of AmCham Abu Dhabi, and the UAE. This year, AmCham Abu Dhabi held its 8th annual Roundtable Summit at the Yas Vineroy in Abu Dhabi on October 19, 2016. The prestigious event provided business and government leaders a platform to discuss business opportunities and challenges of trade and investment in Abi Dhabi, as well as identify concerns and issues for those doing business in the Emirate.

The dialogue, made possible by the Summit, allowed event attendees and participants to identify specific government policies, business practices, and laws that can be improved to enhance investment in the UAE and US-UAE commercial relations and assist the Emirate in achieving their goals and plans outlined in Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

The majority of the event was dedicated to 10 roundtable breakout sessions focused on discussions. Among the many sectors discussed at the Roundtable Summit, the following ten showed the most interest: banking and finance; cyber innovation; defense, aerospace and security; education and professional training; energy, water, oil and gas; engineering, construction and project management; fast-moving consumer goods; healthcare and insurance; hospitality and tourism; and media, arts and culture. All issues, solutions, and recommendations discussed and identified by each of the ten sectors will be presented to both US and UAE government officials and policymakers in an effort to increase and promote trade, investment and cooperation.

Participants and attendees of this year’s Roundtable Summit had an opportunity to listen to a keynote address from H.E. Abdulla Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade and Industry, U.A.E. Ministry of Economy. During his speech, Al Saleh highlighted key areas of UAE and US cooperation and acknowledged the two countries’ growing relationship strengthened by the continuation of successful bilateral trade, economic cooperation and cultural partnerships.

As the US’ largest export market in the Middle East, the UAE is a strong economic partner that produced over $25 billion in two-way trade in 2015 alone. Since the country’s founding in 1971, economic and trade relations between the US and UAE have grown exponentially through strategic partnerships, investments and government policies. Recently, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba touched on the deep commercial ties between the US and UAE during a visit to Dallas, Texas. While delivering a speech to the Political Studies students of Southern Methodist University, Ambassador Al Otaiba noted the robust trade relationship not only between the UAE and US, but more specifically the UAE and the state of Texas. As the state’s exports surpassed more than $2 billion in 2015, Texas is the second largest merchandise exporter to the UAE among the US states.


A Formula for Work Place Happiness in the UAE

A happy work environment for anyone is crucial to wellness and success worldwide. That is why under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE is focused on creating a happy work environment for all government ministries and institutions

Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness has created a Customer Happiness Formula that highlights the government’s ability to achieve customer happiness and to ensure the well-being of the community by providing excellent services to achieve this.

The Customer Happiness Formula highlights three main components: employees who pride themselves in providing excellent government services, government entities that are dedicated to making customers happy, and positive proactive customers who are willing to provide suggestions and contribute to the development of innovative services that create happiness.

The concept of happiness is not new for the people of the UAE. This workplace philosophy surrounding UAE government employees is actually inherited from the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He emphasized the value of happiness for all citizens and residents, and the Customer Happiness Formula is helping to achieve this environment.

A positive environment is necessary when striving to achieve the most success in the work place.  A happy work environment transfers through to employees and, in the end, to the customers and it is a never ending cycle. Whether you are in the USA or UAE, the performance of employees reflects heavily back on the environment that the employees are surrounded by and the UAE government is striving to provide this happiness to all segments of society.

IT and Health Care Industries see jobs demand growth

The UAE is surpassing others in the Gulf Cooperation Council market, excelling in the education, healthcare, and IT industries. The information technology and healthcare fields in the Middle East have risen above the rest in job demand, according to the March 2016 Monster Employment Index. With the UAE’s mission to achieve a knowledge-based economy, the country is preparing to meet that demand.

UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba has supported expanded education programs and partnerships with other countries, including the United States. In an initiative to make UAE youth the next generation of innovators, Al Otaiba has worked to foster partnerships with the United States to support cross-cultural learning and engagement.

While unemployment remains a concern in many parts of the world, UAE companies in the healthcare industry are ready to hire young educated professionals. The job website, Monster, reported that the healthcare industry in the UAE has grown by 66 percent since the beginning of 2016. Additionally, the industry’s ads for jobs have increased by 76 percent. A managing director at the company said this spike could be attributed to the UAE’s attractive and affordable healthcare system.

Some industries with traditionally high job demand, such as the oil and gas field, are slowing down, but many experts say the medical industry is stable. In addition, the UAE is seeing one of the highest pay raises in the Middle East, showing the reward of pursuing a knowledge-based economy.

The future looks bright for young leaders in the UAE who are invested in their education. In partnership with the United States, the country hopes to make that future even more promising with continued opportunities for young people.

Collaboration in Education between the USA and the UAE

As the SAT, the standardized test used in the college admission process run by the College Board, undergoes massive changes and a drastic reformatting, there is a global response to understanding these changes and how they will impact the college admissions process in the United States and internationally.

In order to help administrators and students in the UAE understand the changes to the test, Vice President of US-based testing preparation service, the Princeton Review, Michael Gamerl presented a special seminar for school administrators in the UAE. The seminar titled, “The School Counselor’s Toolkit for Re-Designed SAT,” took place throughout the country in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai on November 15th and November 16th, 2015. While the new SAT was released this month, it will not be offered for first time in UAE until May 2016. This gives administrators in the UAE time to properly prepare UAE students for the new version.

The SAT has gone through minor tweaks and changes over the year, but Gamerl, a 25-year veteran on working with the SAT, stated that this redesign is the most substantial change that he has seen. Much of the seminar was focused on the differences on the new SAT format and how students will be affected by the redesigned version of the SAT. For example, the new SAT has an increased focus on advanced math, punctuation, and reading comprehension. To help administrators understand these changes, Gamerl provided them with sample questions from the new SAT and compared the new SAT to its college admission test counterpart, the ACT. He stated that the new SAT is similar to the ACT, but more difficult. The new similarities between these two tests now include that there will be no penalty for answers that are incorrect, there will only be four answer choices per question.

UAE educators who were in attendance also raised concerns regarding the new scoring system. The new test will scored on a scale of 400 to 1,600 as opposed from 600 to 2,400. Many questions circulated about how this new scoring will correlated with the old scores. Gamerl assured them that the College Board will release a concordance chart to help students as well as colleges compare the scores of the new SAT, the old SAT and the ACT.

There is no doubt that the new version of the SAT will impact the college admission testing process, but through global educational collaboration, such as between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, educators can work together to ensure that students will be properly prepared to succeed on these tests.

UAE scholars to visit Britain, USA and Switzerland

Over 400 UAE students will be going on a field trip of a lifetime this summer. As the country’s top young minds, they will have the chance to tour and study at some of the most prestigious institutions and innovative cities in Britain, the United States and Switzerland. This trip along with several other opportunities at local universities in the UAE is part of the Ministry of Education’s initiative to help students develop the desire and ability to explore, create and innovate.

During their trip, students will be engaged in advanced discussions and demonstrations focused on science and technology. Information technology (IT) will make up a large part of the curriculum and the students will have the opportunity to shadow and assist executives at top IT firms while they simultaneously gain insights from the classroom. They will be assigned to projects similar to the types of tasks that leading experts and scientist work in their everyday jobs. The hope is that through all of these experiences, students will gain an overall understanding of the daily work environments and necessary skills needed to perform these jobs.

This program is just one element of the Ministry’s goal of preparing Emirati students to be productive members of society said H.E. Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education. It aligns deeply with the UAE’s national innovation objectives and the UAE Vision 2021 plan. The goal of this trip and other educational programs, such as scientific camps and daily learning seminars, is for students to develop essential problem solving and critical thinking skills. These skills along with the ability to innovate and create will help them as the future leaders and will be crucial to the UAE’s sustainable development as a country. The Ministry of Education hopes that these learning experiences will help students learn how to be adaptive and responsive to changes on both a local and an international level.

“In addition to these camps and sponsored trips, the Ministry of Education will continue to fund programs at local school communities,” stated H.E. Amal Al Kous, Assistant Undersecretary for the School Environment and Activities Sector, Ministry of Education. “Special programs, such as competitions and daily training seminars, will help stimulate students at young ages and prepare them for future educational opportunities.”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Comes to Meet President Obama

Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba announced on April 15th that the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House next Monday, April 20th. Their discussion will center on both nation’s commitment to regional security in the Middle East and their joint efforts to fight violent extremism. The White House stated that the agenda would also include Yemen, preventing Iran from producing nuclear weapons and discussions centering around possible solutions to the conflict in Libya and Syria. UAE Foreign Minister and Deputy National Security Advisor will accompany Sheikh Mohamed on his visit to Washington, which will also include meetings with senior US administration officials and Congressional leaders.

The UAE and US have a history of common values and shared interests and their strong relationship continues to grow in the areas of defense, economy, and culture.  The UAE fights terrorism and extremism in the region and beyond and their cooperation with the United States includes a range of defense and intelligence initiatives. Both the UAE and US work closely to maintain security and stability in the Middle East and collaborate to fight groups such as ISIS who threaten worldwide peace and prosperity

Security and stability are not the only goals the two nations share. The UAE has one of the world’s fastest growing economies making it a huge partner with the United States in world development and trade. In fact, the UAE is the single largest export market in Middle East for the US; in 2012 alone, the United States exported $22 million goods directly into the UAE. More impressively, the UAE has held this distinction of largest export market in the Middle East for four consecutive years.

Not only has the business relationship grown between the UAE and the USA, there has also been growth in the social and cultural sectors. US higher education institutions, including New York University and the Guggenheim Museum, are working closely with a range of educational and cultural organizations in the UAE, establishing several satellite institutions.

In recent months UAE Embassy partnered with the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy to bring an exhibit of Emirati art to the United States called Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates.  The exhibition is the largest display of art from the UAE in the United States and proudly features over 25 different artists from all seven Emirates.

Considering the UAE and United States’ strong relationship as allies on the political, economic, and cultural front, Sheikh Mohamed’s visit stands to deepen the already immense mutual respect and understanding that our two nations share. There is much work to be done on the global stage, but through collaborative efforts between forward thinking nations such as the UAE and US, positive change can be affected.

Joint Strategic Military Dialogue Between the US and the UAE

Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba pic In May 2013, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin E. Dempsey, traveled to Abu Dhabi to speak with his Emirati counterpart, Army Lieutenant General Hamad Thani al-Rumaithi, as well as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who serves as deputy supreme commander of all armed forces in the United Arab Emirates.

These military professionals opened a dialogue on integrating American and Emirati capabilities to improve security for both nations. Understanding that cooperation is the key to calming instability in the Middle East, both nations have already integrated air and missile defense, command, and control. The Middle East remains a crucial region both economically and politically, which reinforces the importance of such a collaboration.

The UAE belongs to the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes among its members Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait. By increasing collaboration with Emirati forces, the U.S. can strengthen ties with these other nations. While the U.S. has long enjoyed positive relations with all members of the council, General Dempsey does not underestimate the power of renewing and reinforcing the country’s existing partnerships.