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.
In an outreach to the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the Armed Forces, in Abu Dhabi in February 2014. Their meeting, which also included Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba, and U.S. Ambassador to the UAE Michael Corbin, focused on regional security issues.
The dignitaries discussed several pressing issues regarding regional security and peace, including Iran’s nuclear program and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The visit was one of two to the UAE by U.S. secretaries within a month. On March 5, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited the UAE on a trade mission, the first by a sitting secretary in more than a decade. Economic and security partnerships are two of the most important areas of relations between the U.S. and the UAE. In fact, 2013 marked the fifth consecutive year that the UAE received more American exports than any nation in the Middle East and North Africa region.
This past March, diplomats from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Washington, DC, visited government, business, and community leaders in Atlanta to discuss new possibilities for future collaboration and celebrate the growing trade relationship between the UAE the United States. This relationship has expanded very quickly in Georgia, which exported $790 million worth of merchandise to the UAE. This figure represents a 95% increase since 1999. At present, Georgia ranks eighth among American states with the highest UAE export rates. Savannah remains one of the most important ports with nearly $1.2 billion worth of UAE trade last year.
During their time in Atlanta, UAE diplomats met with distinguished members of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, as well as representatives from Invest Atlanta and the Mayor’s Office. One of the primary topics of conversation was local sustainability and how initiatives for it can increase cooperation between Atlanta and the UAE. The diplomats also spoke at Grady High School on the economic diversification of the UAE and role that Emirati women play in government, business, and culture.
His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States, appeared on MSNBC’s talk show Morning Joe on April 4, 2014, and discussed the United States’ role in the Middle East. During a segment that lasted just more than 5 minutes, Ambassador Al Otaiba provided context for a written statement he had previously issued outlining the tasks that the United States and the UAE face in the Middle East. According to the ambassador, those tasks range from putting a stop to ongoing violence in Syria and stabilizing Egypt to containing the threats posed by Iran’s nuclear program and fighting terrorism.
The show’s hosts posed several questions to Ambassador Al Otaiba, beginning with whether there is a perception in the Gulf Region that the United States has become less involved in the Middle East. They went on to ask him how U.S. leaders might be able to convince their electorate of the importance of continuing engagement with Middle Eastern nations. To view the full interview, go to www.on.msnbc.com/1dUCZsD.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States, is thrilled with the recent news that Dubai has been chosen to host the World Expo 2020. This selection marks a significant victory for the UAE, which will now be the first country in the Middle East, Africa, or Southeast Asia to host the event.
First launched in London in 1851 as a showcase of culture and technology, a World Expo today is a key forum for events, exhibitions, and debates on international issues ranging from sustainable development to the global economy. Hundreds of nations, businesses, and international organizations participate in World Expos, which are held every five years and allow millions of international visitors to explore and discover new cultures and ideas.
The theme for Dubai’s World Expo 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” with a particular focus on three subthemes that constitute key drivers of global development: sustainability, or renewable sources of energy and water; mobility, or smart logistical and transportation systems; and opportunity, or alternative paths to economic development. World Expo 2020 organizers estimate that 25 million people will visit Dubai during the six months of Expo, from October of 2020 to April of 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker recently spoke at a luncheon co-hosted by three organizations that facilitate business relationships between the United States and the Gulf Region, including the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council. Trade between the United States and the U.A.E. is an important cornerstone of the relationship between the two countries: in 2012, the United States exported $22 billion in goods to the U.A.E.
Secretary Pritzker’s remarks, delivered near the end of February 2014, focused on the commercial and security relationships built between the United States and states in the Gulf Region over decades, as well as the opportunities available for U.S. businesses in the Gulf. To illustrate her points, Secretary Pritzker sprinkled her speech with concrete examples, making mention of the 35,000 U.S. military service members in the Gulf Region and referencing recent arms deals when discussing security.
The secretary also told the story of Jamba Juice, which obtained the assistance of the Commerce Department as it sought to expand in the Middle East. Working with a program the Commerce Department calls Gold Key, Jamba Juice set up its entry into the region and announced a deal in early 2014 that will bring 80 Jamba Juice stores to six countries in the Gulf.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba: Supporting Commercial Ties between the United Arab Emirates and the United States
As United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to the United States for the past four years, Yousef Al Otaiba has emphasized building stronger cultural and economic ties between the two countries. His efforts reflect the UAE’s strategic positioning as a steadfast ally and major trading partner with the United States in the Arabian Gulf region.
With its currency pegged to the U.S. dollar, the UAE stands as America’s largest Middle Eastern export market. More than 800 U.S. firms have a local presence in the UAE, and this number is steadily increasing. Strengthened commercial ties are the primary focus of organizations such as the U.S.-UAE Business Council, which brings together numerous companies from both countries as collaborative partners. The year 2012 marked the inauguration of the first-ever U.S.-UAE Economic Policy Dialogue, which represents a vital effort to coordinate trade matters and commercial relations at the national level.
Government officials such as Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba are confident that mutually beneficial relations between the UAE and the United States will continue well into the 21st century.