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.
Global Humanitarian Initiatives
Due in large part to the outreach efforts of foreign officials such as Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE has earned a reputation as a humanitarian nation. As an economically prosperous nation with several high-performing domestic industries, the UAE provides significant foreign aid to alleviate the effects of poverty and natural disasters. The Dubai Cares program, which increases access to primary education in developing nations, has affected more than 4 million children across 20 countries. The UAE also maintains a firm commitment to helping victims of natural disasters, contributing $100 million of relief funding after Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis in Asia, and earthquakes in Pakistan. In the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the UAE joined the United States government in delivering much-needed food and shelter to people in the affected region.
Society and Culture
Home to one of the most progressive social climates in the Gulf region, the UAE consistently seeks new ways to improve social opportunities for citizens and address some of the most pressing global and regional problems. Under the provisions of the Constitution of the UAE, women enjoy full rights and receive protection in the workplace. A number of women have reached the upper echelons of UAE government, including Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, who also earned a spot on the Forbes list of 100 most powerful women in the world in 2007.
In terms of bilateral cooperation, the UAE has forged a number of strategic partnerships with organizations and institutions of higher learning in the United States. In recent years, universities such as the Rochester Institute of Technology and New York University have initiated overseas programs or campuses in the UAE. Top-quality medical programs such as the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Cleveland Clinic have also begun to establish doctoral programs and hospitals in the UAE to improve the quality of health care. Nonprofit organizations have also established presences in the UAE, including the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation, which works with the UAE government to educate women about breast cancer.
Peace in the Region
As a leader in the Middle East and Gulf regions, the UAE sets out to cultivate peace among its neighbors. Like many nations around the world, the UAE supports a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. The UAE actively supports programs that provide aid to the West Bank and Gaza regions, including the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the UN Development Program. Over the years, charitable organizations in the UAE have contributed more than $500 million to humanitarian projects such as the construction of a girl’s school in the Damascus area. The UAE also provides valuable funding for people in Iraq, including training for Iraqi police, scholarships for Iraqi students in the UAE, and medical services for Iraqi children.
Thanks to the efforts of diplomats such as Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to the United States, the United States and the UAE currently cooperate on many important political and economic issues.
Through a concerted joint effort, the United States and the UAE work hard to ensure the continuing stability of the Arabian Gulf region. For more than two decades, the UAE has supported the United States in many important military endeavors, including Operation Desert Storm and U.S. expeditions into Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. In addition to hosting more than 2,000 United States military personnel, the UAE supports the U.S. Air Force by providing vital facilities and logistics at Al Dhafra Air Base. The UAE also draws on its own military strength, regularly deploying UAE armed forces in conflicts such as the Gulf War and United Nations Operations in Kosovo and Somalia.
Given its location in the Middle East, the UAE assumes a large measure of responsibility for eradicating the threat of terrorism in the region. The UAE contributes to the fight against terrorism by enacting aggressive export control laws, participating on joint task forces on terrorist financing and nuclear proliferation, and cooperating with United States intelligence agencies. The UAE has also signed on to a number of anti-terrorism agreements, including the Proliferation Security Initiative and the U.S. Container Security Initiative. To bolster its own military capabilities, the UAE maintains several military equipment initiatives with the United States, including the Hawk Air Defense System missiles, C-17 aircraft, and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
One of the most important areas of bilateral cooperation between any two nations, trade relations serves as a pillar of the collaborative efforts between the UAE and the United States. The largest U.S. export market in the Middle East, the UAE plays host to some 750 U.S. corporations and pegs its currency to the value of the dollar. Throughout the years, the UAE has made significant investments in U.S. holdings, increasing the liquidity of U.S. capital markets and providing increased job security for American workers. Furthermore, at the US-UAE Business Council, corporate representatives from both countries pledged to take advantage of bilateral business opportunities.
The UAE currently stands as the only nation in the Arabian Gulf to allow private entities to participate in the domestic oil and gas industry. In particular, U.S. oil company ExxonMobil maintains a strategic partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) while Occidental Petroleum plays a significant role in the importation of natural gas to the U.S. Additionally, the UAE is the single largest buyer of commercial passenger aircraft from The Boeing Company, a major defense and aeronautics developer in the United States.