United Arab Emirates - Foreign Policy and Military

Foreign Policy and Military

The UAE’s liberal climate towards foreign cooperation, investment and modernization has prompted extensive diplomatic and commercial relations with other countries. It plays a significant role in OPEC and the UN, and is one of the founding members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Regionally, the UAE has a very close relationship with other GCC members as well as most of the Arab countries. The Emirates have long maintained close relations with Egypt and remain the highest investor in the country from among the rest of the Arab world. Pakistan has also been a major recipient of economic aid and relations have been extremely close since the founding of the federation. Pakistan had been first to formally recognize the UAE upon its formation and continues to be one of its major economic and trading partners with about 400,000 expatriates receiving employment in the UAE. India’s large expat community in the UAE also has over the centuries evolved into current close political, economic and cultural ties. The largest demographic presence in the Emirates is Indian. Following British military withdrawal from UAE in 1971, and the establishment of UAE as a newly formed state, the UAE disputes rights to a number of islands in the Persian Gulf against Iran. However the dispute has not significantly impacted relations because of the large Iranian community presence and strong economic ties.

Following the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait, the UAE has maintained extensive relations with its allies for security and cooperation towards increasing interoperability of its defense forces and for liberating Kuwait. France and the United States have played the most strategically significant roles with defense cooperation agreements and military material provision. Most recently, these relations culminated in a joint nuclear deal for the US to supply the UAE with nuclear power equipment, technology and fuel. In turn, the UAE – a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory – has agreed to open its nuclear facilities to full international inspections and refrain from producing its own reactor fuel.

Commercially, the UK and Germany are the UAE’s largest export markets and bilateral relations have long been close as a large number of their nationals reside in the UAE.

Diplomatic relations between UAE and Japan were established as early as UAE's independence in December 1971. The two countries had always enjoyed friendly ties and trade between each other. Exports from the UAE to Japan include crude oil and natural gas and imports from Japan to UAE include cars and electric items.

The UAE is pursuing a policy of peaceful settling of the region's issues. The country supports the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state. At the second international conference to support the Palestinian economy and reconstruction of Gaza strip, which was held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, the UAE said it would continue to offer political, economic and humanitarian support to the Palestinian cause. The UAE has provided over US$3 billion in aid to the Palestinians, including development funds for infrastructure, housing, hospital and school projects. In addition, the country donated US$174 million towards reconstruction in Gaza. The UAE has been an active supporter of the Iraqi Government in its efforts to draw up a comprehensive political formula to enable the country to achieve security and stability. It has one of the few functioning Arab embassies and resident ambassadors in Baghdad, and has canceled debts worth about US$7 billion to support Iraq’s reconstruction efforts. The UAE continues to contribute constructively to the international efforts aimed at stabilizing Afghanistan and supporting its bid to restore security. As part of its humanitarian and development assistance to Afghanistan, it provided US$550 million between 2002 and 2008. The UAE is the only Arab country performing humanitarian activities on the ground in Afghanistan.

One major diplomatic success for the UAE during 2009, which also reflected its growing international status, came with Abu Dhabi being chosen to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This is one of the few times that a developing country has had the opportunity to host the headquarters of a major international organization.

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