Bold foreign policy of the UAE brings benefits for GCC



The UAE's celebration of its 40th anniversary marked not only domestic success, but also a new trend in its foreign relations. Located in the tumultuous Arab Gulf, the UAE has prospered among domestic, regional and international challenges. It has managed to raise its international profile to become among the most active members of the international community at many levels, particularly as an aid donor.

During its history the UAE has produced a constructive foreign policy that is based on dialogue, diplomacy and development. It led a relatively small state to become visible not only among Arab states, but also in the larger international community.

This policy of engagement was evident from the start. Sheikh Zayed, the father of the country, preferred dialogue with Tehran, despite Iran being perceived as the most serious security threat to the UAE. The UAE consistently chose to deal with the issue of the three occupied islands in the Gulf, the Tunbs and Abu Musa, through international courts and the United Nations, without confrontation.

In recent years Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, has also been active. Due to his efforts in gathering international support, the UAE won the bid to house the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). The UAE has established stronger ties with most countries in the region and gathered support for its rights to the occupied islands, as well as more general support for Arab causes throughout the region.

Diplomacy is especially important for small states. The UAE has complemented its outreach with foreign aid, a dominant aspect in its foreign affairs. Development and humanitarian aid has added to the country's international prestige. In fact, the UAE is ranked 14th globally in terms of aid disbursed in proportion to gross national income. That assistance, which is rooted in the country's Arab and Islamic traditions, has become a central tenet of its foreign policy.

This year, the UAE has become involved in two significant events in the Arab world. First, it was the second Arab country after Qatar to engage with Nato to support operations in Libya. Second, it participated in the Peninsula Shield operation in Bahrain. It is worth asking what is the significance of these two events for the UAE in terms of its foreign relations and domestic realities. In particular, why did Qatar and the UAE become the only two Arab countries to contribute to the Nato operation in Libya?

Despite speculation that Nato used Qatar and the UAE as an Arab umbrella to cover its operations in Libya, many believed international cooperation was urgently needed to stop Libya from being dragged further into a civil war. At the beginning of the uprising, the UAE supported Qatar's bid to secure an Arab League resolution calling for international protection for Libyan protesters.

Mohammed Al Akari, an adviser to Libya's National Transitional Council, told me the NTC would not have called for international support if there had been another option. Simply put, the absence of Arab defence cooperation or an armed force under the umbrella of the Arab League meant that Nato was the only solution for multilateral action. The UAE understood this.

The question arises, then, why didn't other regional states like Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain take similar action? Part of the answer is that in May 2011, the UAE became the first Arab country to send an ambassador to Nato. Although the UAE already belonged to Nato's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, the decision to send an ambassador showed the UAE's international commitment.

In part, this was an insurance policy against the security threat posed by Iran. The UAE's leaders understand that the country's position is strengthened by engagement with international security initiatives.

The perceived regional threat of Iran also helps to explain the intervention in Bahrain. The UAE took part in the deployment of the GCC's Peninsula Shield Force to maintain order in Bahrain. Although these forces acted within the framework of a defence agreement among the GCC states, many Bahraini observers perceived them as occupying forces.

But in truth, most of these forces have had little contact with protesters. The UAE personnel in Bahrain were used to guard sensitive government buildings and strategic sites. The Shield force was defined as an effort to preserve GCC unity and stability.

The GCC as a bloc within the region has become a security umbrella for the smaller states. The UAE's President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, has sought to follow in the steps of his predecessor to maintain a regional organisation to serve the mutual economic, security and political interests.

Nonetheless, the GCC should re-evaluate its security role going forward to better define the role of the Peninsula Shield Force.

The main mission of the force is to serve as the first line of defence against any external aggressor. There is not, however, any provision for the deployment of a multilateral GCC force to deal with security threats from within these states by their own people.

The UAE's involvement at the regional and international levels signifies a growing prominence in the international community. The country prefers involvement rather than isolation, but has proceeded down this road by taking cautious steps, as it will no doubt continue to do.

Khalid Almezaini is a research fellow at the University of Cambridge and author of The UAE and Foreign Policy: Foreign Aid, Identities and Interests

ASSASSIN'S CREED MIRAGE

Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
Publisher: Ubisoft
Consoles: PlayStation 4&5, PC and Xbox Series S&X
Rating: 3.5/5

Bookshops: A Reader's History by Jorge Carrión (translated from the Spanish by Peter Bush),
Biblioasis

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

Reputation

Taylor Swift

(Big Machine Records)

Sonchiriya

Director: Abhishek Chaubey

Producer: RSVP Movies, Azure Entertainment

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Manoj Bajpayee, Ashutosh Rana, Bhumi Pednekar, Ranvir Shorey

Rating: 3/5

Company profile

Name: Fruitful Day

Founders: Marie-Christine Luijckx, Lyla Dalal AlRawi, Lindsey Fournie

Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2015

Number of employees: 30

Sector: F&B

Funding so far: Dh3 million

Future funding plans: None at present

Future markets: Saudi Arabia, potentially Kuwait and other GCC countries

IF YOU GO
 
The flights: FlyDubai offers direct flights to Catania Airport from Dubai International Terminal 2 daily with return fares starting from Dh1,895.
 
The details: Access to the 2,900-metre elevation point at Mount Etna by cable car and 4x4 transport vehicle cost around €57.50 (Dh248) per adult. Entry into Teatro Greco costs €10 (Dh43). For more go to www.visitsicily.info

 Where to stay: Hilton Giardini Naxos offers beachfront access and accessible to Taormina and Mount Etna. Rooms start from around €130 (Dh561) per night, including taxes.

How to get there

Emirates (www.emirates.com) flies directly to Hanoi, Vietnam, with fares starting from around Dh2,725 return, while Etihad (www.etihad.com) fares cost about Dh2,213 return with a stop. Chuong is 25 kilometres south of Hanoi.