Foreign relations of the United Arab Emirates

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Since the establishment of the United Arab Emirates in 2 December 1971, UAE adopted a balanced foreign policy based on adoption of dialogue, respect of international conventions, commitment to the United Nations Charter and non-interference of other country's internal affairs, and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.

One of the main anchors of the UAE’s foreign policy has been building cooperation-based relations with all countries of the world. Substantial development assistance has increased the UAE's stature among recipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion) has been to Arab and Muslim countries.

Multilateral relations[edit]

UAE has joined the United Nations and the Arab League and has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including the United States, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, India, the China, and most Western European countries. It has played a moderate role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), the United Nations, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The UAE believes that the Arab League needs to be restructured to become a viable institution and would like to increase strength and interoperability of the GCC defense forces.

The UAE is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its specialized agencies (ICAO, ILO, UPU, WHO, WIPO); World Bank, IMF, Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), OPEC, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement.

In October 2010, the UAE was granted observer status at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (



The UAE and Australia have begun establishing closer relations, recently the UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri visited Australia along with the UAE delegation - discussion focused on the development of a strategic partnership, financial services, trade and investment.[1][2][3]

Middle East[edit]


Since the establishment of UAE in 1971, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates relations were always at a good level and developing at an unprecedented rate. The bond of friendship between the leaders of both countries has reflected on the growing political, economic and cultural ties between them, as a result UAE ranks first among Arab and foreign countries investing in Egypt.[4] UAE and Egypt maintain a close economic ties and maintain trade between the two countries with imports and exports between the two sides. The government of UAE by an order from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the President of UAE, gave Egypt cargo ships carrying 850,000 tonnes of wheat[when?] as a food gift to the people of Egypt.[5]


The UAE maintains very close economic ties with Iran based on long-standing relations, dating back hundreds of years. It also has a significant Iranian community. However, Iran claims three islands in the Persian Gulf (Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb) which has been subject of dispute by the UAE.

As for the Iran's nuclear program, given that the UAE adopt the principle of not interfering in the internal matters of others, The UAE chose not to interfere with Iran's nuclear program as long as Iran continues to reassure the world that the program is peaceful. The UAE announced its position concerning all kinds of weapons of mass destruction is that the UAE calls for the freeing of the Middle East region from all such weapons.[citation needed]


The Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait were a shock to the UAE. For the UAE, the crisis over Kuwait demonstrated a lack of Arab unity on a critical Arab issue. The UAE joined the Arab states that opposed the Iraqi invasion and supported the use of force to compel Iraq's withdrawal of troops from Kuwait.[6] Prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the UAE opposed the US led invasion.

In June 2008, the Iraqi government announced that the United Arab Emirates would send an ambassador to Baghdad within a few days. This would become the first Arab ambassador in Iraq since the kidnapping and murder of the Egyptian Ambassador Ihab el-Sherif in July 2005. This announcement was made during a surprise visit by the United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Baghdad on 5 June 2008. This marked the first time a high-ranking official from a Gulf state visited Iraq since March 2003.[7][8]

On 31 July 2007 following Iraq victory of the Asian Cup, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE awarded the Iraq National football team 20 million Dhs, ($5.2 million) for capturing the Asian Cup for the first time in the country’s history.[9]




The UAE’s liberal climate towards foreign cooperation, investment and modernization have prompted extensive commercial ties with western countries, and subsequently resulting in even closer cultural relations. The country remains a major global tourist and foreign direct investment destination but a few countries play a more significant role than the rest.


Albania has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.



The UAE’s relationship with France has been strategically important as it negotiated a defence cooperation agreement and remains one of the country’s primary providers of military material.[10] France and the UAE have signed a defence cooperation agreement in order to diversity its procurement from solely the US.[10] Culturally, as the Sorbonne and Louvre are both establishing extensions in the UAE,[11] a plan is in the works to recreate a miniature Lyon city in Dubai complete with public squares, restaurants and museums.[12]

On May 25, 2009, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy visited the UAE, Abu Dhabi where he along with UAE's president H.H Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan formally opened a French military base in the United Arab Emirates. This would become France's first permanent base in the Persian Gulf, hosting up to 500 French troops.[13] In addition to the inauguration of Peace Camp, Nicolas Sarkozy visited the site of a Louvre Museum branch which France is opening in the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the co-operation with France is a top priority for the UAE's foreign policy.[14]


German exports amount to 5.84 billion Euros.[15] German companies significantly contribute to the UAE’s ongoing infrastructure projects and play a leading role in the country’s alternative energy developments.[16] Consequently, German Business Park, an area designed to house several of the already seven hundred present companies and their logistical needs, is in the midst of construction.[17]


Diplomatic relatione between Georgia and the UAE were initiated on 20 October 1992.[18] The countries are represented in each other through embassies.[18]



Ireland is represented in the United Arab Emirates through its embassy in Abu Dhabi. The United Arab Emirates are represented in Ireland through their embassy in Dublin.


The United Arab Emirates recognized Kosovo on 14 October 2008.[19][20] Kosovo plans to open an embassy in the UAE.[21] After the Serbian government launched a major offensive against the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo in 1998, the UAE called for international intervention and commenced a major program of humanitarian relief through its Red Crescent Society. In 1999, the UAE was among the first non-NATO states to voice support for NATO's bombing campaign.[22] During the UN administration period, the UAE maintained almost 1,500 peacekeeping and special operations troops in Kosovo.[23] The UAE was the only Muslim state to offer to participate in the Kosovo Force and its commitment was the first operational deployment of UAE forces outside the Middle East region.[22] As of October 2008, these forces remained in Kosovo and between 1998 and 2008, the aid given to Kosovo by the UAE’s Red Crescent Authority alone cost Dh125 million, the biggest international humanitarian mission in the UAE's history.[24]


Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with then President of Russia Vladimir Putin on 10 September 2007.

Russia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Moscow.


Relations between Serbia and the United Arab Emirates have flourished in recent years. Serbia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE has an embassy in Belgrade. The UAE is now one of the top sources of FDI for Serbia.


An embassy of the United Arab Emirates will open in Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) in the first half of 2010.[25][26]

United Kingdom[edit]

Traditionally, links between the sheikhs of the lower Gulf and the United Kingdom were close as a result of a series of 19th-century martime truces for the suppression of piracy. Since the British withdrew their military forces from the Gulf in 1971, relations have remained friendly while the UAE has reorientated its foreign policy away from the former "colonial" relationship to one based on trade. Economically, the UAE is the UK’s largest export market for non-military goods in the Middle East.[27]

Rest of world[edit]


Relations between Afghanistan are politically and economically strong. This is because the UAE has a small humanitarian military presence in Afghanistan. UAE troops have been welcomed by the country as allied Muslim soldiers and the Emirati soldiers compliment the Afghan hospitality they encounter.[28] Protests from Kabul arose when the victim in the torture tape with Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan brutally beating a man who is believed to be an Afghan grain merchant that ripped him off for only $5,000.[29]



Fiji and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations on 18 March 2010.[30]


UAE enjoys close economic and cultural relations with India. Close maritime contact between India and the Arabian Peninsula date back to 3rd and 2nd millennium BC.[31] and textile and spice trade between the two countries flourished during most of 1st millennium AD.[32]

The discovery of oil allowed the UAE to increase and diversify its trade relations with India. UAE and India are each other's main trading parthers. The trade totals over $75 billion (AED275.25 billion).[33] During the first half of 2010, non-oil trade between India and the UAE stood at US$20.4 billion.[34] UAE is home to more than 1.75 million Indian expatriates, making Indians the second largest ethnic group in the nation.[35]


The diplomatic relations between Indonesia and United Arab Emirates are important because both share the solidarity as Muslim majority countries, and both countries recognizes the important role of each counterparts in the region. Since the diplomatic relations established in 1976, both country enjoy friendly and cordial relationship. Indonesia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi, while the United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Jakarta. Both countries are partners in multilateral organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), The Non-Aligned Movement and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Indonesia uses the UAE as the main gate to enter the Persian Gulf and Middle East market, Indonesia's export to UAE is the largest in the Middle East. Indonesian Government has established the trade and investment representative office to promote its products in United Arab Emirates and the entire Middle East region.


Diplomatic relations between UAE and Japan were established as early as UAE's independence in December 1971.[36] The two countries had always enjoyed friendly ties and trade between each other, exports from UAE to Japan include crude oil and natural gas and imports from Japan to UAE include Cars and Electric items.[36]


United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.[37] The countries established diplomatic relations in 1983.[38]

In 2005 Malaysia’s export to the UAE stood at Dh7 billion. Main export items were gold and jewellery, wood products (furniture and parts), palm oil, petroleum products and electrical appliances. In 2007, trade between Malaysia and UAE was worth MYR 14.56 billion making UAE, Malaysia's largest trading partner in West Asia as well as Malaysia being the 10th largest exporter to UAE.[39] In 2009, Malaysian ambassador Datuk Yahaya Abdul Jabar said total trade between Malaysia and UAE from January to November stood at RM19.5 billion. Malaysia's main exports to the UAE are jewellery, consumer electronics and palm oil.[40]


Diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United Arab Emirates began on 12 September 1975.[41]


Pakistan and the UAE are very close allies with extremely close relations based on cultural affinities and shared faith. These relations date back to the UAE's formation in 1971, and have since developed into wide-ranging co-operation in various fields. UAE has been a major donor of economic assistance to Pakistan.[44] Sheikh Zayed International Airport in Rahim Yar Khan, in the Punjab province of Pakistan is an example of UAE's economic assistance as the late president and the founder of the UAE Sheikh Zayed donated the airport to the government of Pakistan.

Pakistan was also the first country to accord formal recognition to UAE on its achieving independence.[45] UAE has emerged as one of Pakistan's major economic and trading partners. A large number of Pakistani expatriates, numbering nearly 400,000 are gainfully employed in UAE.[citation needed]


The United Arab Emirates officially recognizes and maintains diplomatic ties with the Federal Government of Somalia, the central government of fellow Arab League member Somalia. The Somali administration also has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.

During the 2011 drought, the UAE authorities assisted the Somali government's humanitarian relief efforts and attempts at stabilizing the situation.[46] The UAE also supports the counter-piracy activities of the Somali authorities.[47]

In 2013, Foreign Minister of Somalia Fowziya Yusuf Haji Adan and her Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation. The agreement re-establishes formal diplomatic ties between Somalia and the UAE, and also focuses on the political, security, economic, investment and development sectors. Additionally, the Emirati government announced that it would re-open its embassy in Mogadishu.[48]


The UAE and Tuvalu established diplomatic relations on 31 March 2010.[49]

United States[edit]

The UAE’s strategic relationship with the United States dates back to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Subsequent to joining the military effort, the two countries signed an agreement in late 1992 allowing for US bases on Emirate soil.[50] July 25, 1994, a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement has been in place.[51] Ten years later, despite publicly opposing the US led war on Iraq, the UAE permitted a minimal amount of US forces to support the operation from the Al Dhafra air base, Jebel Ali, and naval facilities at Fujairah. Enhancing security relations, has been a US arms sale in March 2000 to the Emirates, valued at $8 billion and included over $2 billion worth of weapons, munitions, and services.[52]

A nuclear deal was signed between the US and the UAE meant to supply nuclear technology, expertise and fuel. Despite international opposition to neighboring Iran’s nuclear developments, the US is confident of the UAE’s compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to refrain from enriching uranium and extracting plutonium.[53] It firmly believes this agreement "has the potential to usher in an era of responsible nuclear-energy development throughout the Middle East.”Global, "New U.S.-U.A.E. Deal Raises Eyebrows Amid Concern Over Iran's Nuclear Program," January 16, 2009[54]

Commercially, the UAE is also the States' largest export market in the Middle East constituting $11.6 billion in exports annually. In March 2005, the US opened negotiations on a free trade agreement and despite recent increasing depreciation of currencies in the Persian Gulf area, the UAE dirham remains pegged to the plunging dollar.[55] The two countries have also maintained close ties through an exchange of cultural and educational partnerships which include the Guggenheim Museum, and a number of American Universities opening campuses in the Emirates.[56]

International disputes[edit]

  • Location and status of boundary with Saudi Arabia is not final, de facto boundary reflects 1974 agreement; no defined boundary with most of Oman, but Administrative Line in far north;
  • Claims three islands in the Persian Gulf that are part of Iran's territory: Lesser Tunb (called Tunb as Sughra in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Kuchak in Persian by Iran) and Greater Tunb (called Tunb al Kubra in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg in Persian by Iran);
  • Claims island in the Persian Gulf administered by Iran (called Abu Musa in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Abu Musa in Persian by Iran) - over which Iran has taken steps to exert unilateral control since 1992, including access restrictions and a military build-up on the island;

Illicit drugs[edit]

The UAE plays a growing role as a drug trafficking center due to its proximity to southwest Asian producing countries and the bustling free trade zone in Dubai, as a result UAE have one of the strongest anti-drug law enforcements, and the penalty of drug possession is very severe, so the government of UAE makes sure that tourists are warned of UAE drug laws before entering the country. One example of this is the seizure of drugs from different places.[57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UAE is strategic partner and a gateway for Australia to the Middle East, says Al Mansouri
  2. ^ UAE to forger closer economic ties Australia: Al-Mansouri
  3. ^ UAE a gateway for Australia to ME: Mansouri
  4. ^ "Egypt and U.A.E Relations". 
  5. ^ "Food gift: Most wheat offered to Egypt delivered". Gulf News. August 31, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2008. 
  6. ^ United Arab Emirates - Foreign Relations
  7. ^ "Emirates to send envoy to Baghdad". BBC News. 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  8. ^ "UAE to name ambassador to Baghdad". Gulf News. 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  9. ^ "Iraq football team awarded 5.5mn". 2007-08-01. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  10. ^ a b Library of Congress Country Profile: UAE,
  11. ^ USA Today; "Louvre museum to build branch in UAE," March 2007
  12. ^ Gulf News, "UAE and France share strong bilateral relations," May 2008.
  13. ^ "French President Sarkozy opens UAE base". BBC. May 26, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Relationship with France is top priority for UAE, Abdullah says". Gulf News. May 26, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2009. 
  15. ^ Federal Foreign Office of Germany Country Profile UAE, October 2008
  16. ^ "UAE, Germany to cooperate in averting financial mayhem" Saudi Gazette.
  17. ^ Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Website News Release, October 2007
  18. ^ a b "Relations Between Georgia and the United Arab Emirates". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Georgia). 
  19. ^ "UAE recognises Kosovo". Emirates News Agency. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-14. "In accordance with its firm support for the principle of the legitimate right of peoples to self-determination, the United Arab Emirates has announced its recognition of the Kosovo Republic as an independent and sovereign state." 
  20. ^ "UAE recognises Kosovo". IC Publications. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  21. ^ "Kosovo Plans Diplomatic Offensive for '09". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 2009-05-29. "'We are also planning to open an embassy in Japan, to maintain contacts with Asia, in Colombia for Latin America, and eventually in the United Arab Emirates', said Beqiri." [dead link]
  22. ^ a b Ibrahim Abed; Peter Hellyer (2001). United Arab Emirates, a new perspective. Trident Press. "The UAE's active interest in the Balkans was again stimulated by the conflict in Kosovo, whose autonomous status within Serbia had been abolished in 1989. ..." 
  23. ^ "UAE to Keep Troops in Kosovo". Global Policy Forum. Retrieved 2009-05-29. "The commander of the United Arab Emirates military vowed on Monday to keep its peacekeepers in Kosovo for at least two more years, a mission that has raised the Gulf Arab state's international profile." 
  24. ^ It’s not enough for the UAE just to recognise Kosovo
  25. ^ Yushchenko: UAE embassy to open in Ukraine in first half of 2010, Kyiv Post (November 16, 2009)
  26. ^ United Arab Emirates to open embassy in Ukraine in 2010 , Ukrinform (November 16, 2009)
  27. ^ British Foreign And Commonwealth Office, Country Profile: UAE; January 2009
  28. ^ "Muslim troops help win Afghan minds". BBC News. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  29. ^ Human rights in the United Arab Emirates#Torture
  30. ^ "UAE and Fiji establish diplomatic relations" 18 March 2010 Link accessed 21 March 2010
  31. ^ Ganguly, D.K. History and Historians in Ancient India. Abhinav Publications, 1985. ISBN 0-391-03250-X. 
  32. ^ Embassy of India - India-UAE relations
  33. ^ "UAE and India sign crucial investment protection pact". Gulf News. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  34. ^ UAE-India H1 trade jumps 57% to $20.4b
  35. ^ Background Note:United Arab Emirates, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  36. ^ a b Japan-United Arab Emirates Relations Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
  37. ^ Official website of the Embassy of Malaysia,Abu Dhabi
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ History of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the UAE (in Spanish only)
  42. ^ Mexican embassy in the UAE (in Spanish only)
  43. ^ UAE embassy in Mexico City
  44. ^ "Relations with UAE get wider, deeper". Pakistan Observer. November 26, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2008. [dead link]
  45. ^ "Pak-UAE bilateral relations progressing steadily". Pakistan Observer. September 6, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2008. [dead link]
  46. ^ Somali President hails UAE President's humanitarian efforts
  47. ^ Somalia: Puntland President Speech at Constitutional Conference in Garowe
  48. ^ "Somalia: UAE and Somalia Foreign Ministers Sign Mou On Bilateral Cooperation". Warlalis. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  49. ^ "UAE and Tuvalu establish diplomatic relations" 31 March 2010 Link retrieved 01 April 2010
  50. ^ Library of Congress, Country Study: United Arab Emirates, Data as of 1993
  51. ^ CRS Report for Congress, The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy, May 2005
  52. ^ CRS Report for Congress Pg. 5
  53. ^ CNN News "U.S.-United Arab Emirates Sign Nuclear Deal," January 16, 2009
  54. ^ [1]
  55. ^ Thaindian News, "Pegged to dollar, Gulf currencies have depreciated: report", April 7, 2008,
  56. ^ UAE-US Relations: UAE-US Partnerships,
  57. ^ "Tourists Warned of UAE Drug and Prescription Medication Laws". February 10, 2008. 

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