UAE-German relations go beyond strategic importance. Germany, Europe’s largest and most industrialised economy, has been a key economic and trade partner with significant stakes in key industrial sectors such as energy in the UAE.
German companies such as Siemens and Wintershall have been awarded contracts for large projects in utilities, oil and gas as well as the upcoming Expo 2020.
Germany is the UAE’s largest European trading partner, and accounts for nearly 22 per cent of all trade between Berlin and the Arab world.
Non-oil trade between the UAE and Germany rose 60 per cent from 2010 to 2017, reaching $13.45 billion (Dh49.4bn) by the end of that period, government data shows.
The UAE’s move towards clean energy, in which Germany is a world leader, and the rise in upstream activity, particularly in Abu Dhabi over the past couple of years, has contributed to strengthening this relationship.
In Dubai, the Expo 2020, where Germany has built a pavilion worth €50 million (Dh208m) across 4500 square metres, has become a key draw for advancement of new technology by German companies.
Siemens, Germany’s largest industrial group, will set up its global headquarters for airports, cargo and ports logistics in Dubai.
The $7bn exhibition centre will be the new home for its future global logistics headquarters from April 2021 and will house Siemens’ airports, cargo infrastructure and ports teams.
The exhibition centre for the Expo will also host a "vertical campus" that will display the latest in sustainable design and artificial intelligence.
Designed by Cologne agency Facts and Fiction, and Berlin architects Lava, Campus Germany will be in Expo 2020’s Sustainability District.
The vertical campus will consist of separate modules that converge at a spacious atrium with a stage and restaurant, creating a structure that reflects the country’s underlying theme – "knowledge, research and communication".
Siemens also opened a new centre in Abu Dhabi in November to develop digital and artificial intelligence-based solutions for regional customers in the water and oil and gas industries, as part of a $500m investment plan to expand its presence in the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi has also attracted German investment in the upstream energy sector. Wintershall, which is part of the BASF Group, the world’s largest chemicals company, was awarded a 10 per cent stake in the ultra-sour Ghasha concession last year.
The scheme, in which Wintershall has secured 40-year rights, will produce more than 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas and more than 120,000 barrels of condensate a day.
Wintershall is the first German company to be awarded an upstream contract in the UAE. Abu Dhabi has large reserves of sour gas that contains sulphur, and looked to Germany, which has similar resources, for development of its concessions.
German expertise is also helping the UAE to navigate a greener future. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is collaborating with Siemens to develop a solar-powered hydrogen project in Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in the Seih Al Dalh desert region.
With the visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to Berlin, the trade and economic ties between both countries can only be strengthened further.