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.
Located in Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates of which the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is comprised, Saadiyat Island (meaning “island of happiness”) will be home to a cultural district rivaling that of many of the world’s major cities upon its completion.
Planned cultural attractions include eight museums, which will be designed by some of the world’s most prominent architects: a new branch of the Louvre (the first to open outside of France); the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, which will be designed by Foster+Partners to house galleries dedicated to the rich cultural heritage of the UAE; and a Guggenheim museum designed by Frank Gehry which, at 320,000 square feet, will be the largest Guggenheim museum in the world.
The cultural district of Saadiyat Island will also house a maritime museum, exhibition space with room for 19 exhibits, and a performing arts center. When it is complete, Saadiyat Island will be the site of numerous educational, sporting, leisure, and residential facilities, including New York University Abu Dhabi, which will provide up to 2,000 students from the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries with quality undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrates its National Day, a holiday that marks the 1971 formal nationalization and federal unification of the seven emirates that compose the UAE, on December 2. Every year, National Day festivities and events take place across the UAE, usually for at least two days, sometimes longer.
To commemorate the 42nd National Day of the UAE in December of 2013, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba hosted a special reception at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. Intended to recognize the growth and progress of the UAE and celebrate philanthropic and cultural partnerships between the UAE and the US, the event highlighted the important work of some of the country’s key US-based partners.
Organizations, such as the Children’s National Medical Center and the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, are currently making advances in health care, disaster relief, childhood education, and community development, thanks in part to the support of the UAE. In his reception remarks, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba noted that these philanthropic relationships are a reflection of the strong bilateral connection and friendship shared by the US and the UAE and a testament to the charitable legacy of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the UAE.
Hundreds of guests attended the reception, including senior US government officials; community organization representatives; Washington, DC, diplomatic corps members; and other ambassadors.
Earlier this year, Emirates Airlines announced it would begin flying between Washington, D.C., and Dubai beginning in September. With the addition of this route, Emirates Airlines now offers seven nonstop flights between Dubai and major American cities, including Dallas and Seattle.
Yousef Al Otaiba, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, expressed a positive response to the news. He indicated that the route will facilitate increased trade between the UAE and the United States and cited the fact that more than 800 American firms maintain offices in Dubai and the UAE as a whole. In addition, the UAE and the United States engaged in more than $18 billion worth of trade last year, an increase of more than 43 percent from 2010.
Scheduled to open in December 2012, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi reflects a spirit of cooperation and enterprise between the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America; in this case, specifically between the Cleveland Clinic and Mubadala Healthcare, who agreed in 2006 to build a new hospital and clinic in Abu Dhabi. The collective endeavor expands on business and cultural partnerships that have long existed between the two governments and their peoples by sharing information and promoting health. Respected leaders, such as Yousef Al Otaiba, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United States, follow the progress of the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi with interest because of its anticipated benefit in the delivery of medical services to the UAE and the entire Middle East region.
In 2009, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba visited the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where he toured the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute. While at the facility, he spoke with Emirati who were patients of the institute at the time. That trip made by Yousef Al Otaiba underscored the long-standing connection between the organization and the UAE, which appreciates the “patients first” mission statement of the American company. In an earlier venture located in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, the Emirates went so far as to invite the Cleveland Clinic to operate it.
The new, 360-bed Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi incorporates three floors of diagnostic and treatment centers, 13 floors of acute and critical care units, and five floors of clinics. In addition, the new facility includes a conference center, support and operational departments, and a state-of-the-art clinical simulation center that will be used for training. Moreover, the design of the facility utilizes innovative medical records technology that will simplify the process of maintaining and transferring records and data for local and international patients. The finest patient care and amenities complement the advanced equipment, techniques, and treatment that will be offered by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
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.
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.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba hopes to continue this organization’s purpose as a cross-cultural investment that serves the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba supports a number of initiatives in the Washington, DC area that encourage educational development, environmental awareness, arts and culture, science and technology, and strong communities. He supports the efforts of Girls on the Run, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, and the Urban Alliance Foundation.
With a mission to employ youth and inspire excellence, the Urban Alliance Foundation provided an opportunity for two interns to work for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) for the 2009-2010 school year. The next year, two different interns participated in this program, one of whom worked at the ADC while the other participated in an internship at the Latin American Youth Center. The purpose of the ADC is to promote the rich heritage of Middle Eastern culture and protect the rights of Arab-American individuals by advocating policy change and combating negative stereotyping. The Urban Alliance Foundation allows students to contribute to a professional committee through an internship that offers them financial literacy skills, social support, and life skills training. These paid internships give young adults from underserved areas in the Washington, DC community the chance to experience the benefits of finishing high school and enrolling in college. Out of the many young adults in the community, more than 1,100 have gained employment through this program, and these students boast a 99 percent high school graduation rate. Eight out of ten participants in the Urban Alliance program learn important job skills before their first year is over, and almost 90 percent of these interns enroll in college.
For his exceptional contributions to foreign relations between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, U.A.E. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba was awarded the 2010 Ambassador of the Year Award by the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC). Founded more than four decades ago as a nonprofit nonpartisan trade organization, NUSACC stands as the sole U.S. business entity sanctioned by the League of Arab States and the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture. Support from these organizations enables NUSACC to work in harmony with other similar organizations throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce serves as an advocate for U.S. companies in the Middle East and North Africa and acts as gateway to Middle Eastern and North African businesses wishing to establish economic footholds in the U.S. NUSACC facilitates close working relationships between business owners and public and private sector officials , in addition to coordinating with senior management within the U.S. business community, the U.S. Government, public policy research centers, multilateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and media corporations.
At present, the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce boasts more than 25,000 corporate members, which are largely comprised of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, Fortune 500 companies represent the fastest growing membership segment in NUSACC. Membership benefits include access to events, trade data reports, business leads, policy information, and publications such as the U.S.-Arab Tradeline journal. Furthermore, the U.S.-Arab Trade Monitor, NUSACC’s e-newsletter is available to all members, conveying crucial information on investment and trade opportunities in North Africa and the Middle East. Sourced from over 140,000 international news publications, the U.S.-Arab Trade Monitor is so effective that it carries an estimated value of $10,000 per year.
The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce maintains offices in Washington, D.C.; New York, New York; Los Angeles, California; and Houston, Texas and possesses members in all 50 states and 22 countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. For more information, visit the organization’s website at www.nusacc.org.