The head of the UAE's strategic Mubadala Investment Company on Thursday stressed the need for the Emirates to balance ties with the US and China, despite the rising rivalry between the powers.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chief executive of the company, rejected the characterisation of a “zero-sum game” in the UAE's economic ties with US and Chinese.
“We look at it from a very economic and commercial lens, and not as a zero-sum game,” Mr Al Mubarak said at a luncheon in Washington hosted by the US-UAE Business Council
“The US for us is a crucial strategic ally, economic ally, economic partner with the UAE ... We have 34 per cent of our portfolio in the country, enough said. That will continue.”
The UAE had $44.7 billion in foreign direct investment in the US in 2020.
But Mr Al Mubarak said the UAE must keep robust commercial ties with China and India as well, given both countries’ increased influence in the global economy.
“Our number one, number two, trade relationships in the world in terms of the sheer size as a country is China and India,” he said.
“We have to continue to grow and build on that commerce and trade with these countries.”
Mr Al Mubarak said strong commercial ties with both countries were vital for the UAE’s strategy to continue as a transport, logistical and trade centre over the next 50 years.
“We’re global,” he said. “We sit at a very strategic location, which is an advantage for us.”
Asked when he thought that China would pass the US as the world’s largest economy, Mr Al Mubarak said: “I don’t know and I don’t care.
“It’s going to happen. And when it does happen, we’re going to be well positioned.”
He said the UAE’s economic plan over the next 50 years centred on maintaining and expanding its status as a global economic centre.
“We’re a transportation hub, a link between east, west, north, south; a link between North America, Europe, Africa, Asia," Mr Al Mubarak said.
"We will continue to play hard in that game, make sure that we continue to be that connection hub, that transportation hub, that logistic hub, that economic link.”
He said that meant maintaining the UAE as an attractive place to do business during the digital age.
“Over the next 50 years, in this new era of digitalisation, this new era of social media, this new era of connectivity, it’s all about speed,” Mr Al Mubarak said. “It’s speed and we need to sprint.
“The UAE recognises very much now that we’ve got to be ahead of the game in this new, global environment that we are living through.
"We’ve got to make sure that we remain a highly competitive, highly attractive place that is among the easiest to do business in.”
Mr Al Mubarak said that included implementing “the right rules, the right regulations” and “the right reforms", including the appropriate immigration and nationalisation policies.
He looked back over the past 50 years in the UAE and discussed the significant advancements in women’s involvement in the economy.
Mr Al Mubarak said he was proud to show his 9-year-old daughter the wide array of female role models in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and politics.
“I’ll show her a picture of a UAE female astronaut,” he said.
“Over a quarter of our Cabinet are women. Over a third of our Parliament are women.
"We have women manufacturing composites for Boeing. I talked to [female] nuclear engineers in our nuclear plants in Barakah.”