A story of friendship: When Sheikh Khalifa met Jacques Chirac in 2003

The two world leaders met in France to exchange views on international and regional issues

French President Jacques Chirac receives Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Khalifa Ben Zayed (L)  at the Elysée palace, 14 June 2003 in Paris. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP)
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Ever since the UAE was formed in 1971, it has had a long- standing friendship and history of trade and cultural exchange with France, and this has resulted in regular official visits. This photo of President Sheikh Khalifa and the then-French President Jacques Chirac was taken in June 2003.

At the time, Chirac was reported as saying UAE-French relations should be used to the benefit of global peace and stability. Chirac visited the UAE several times, once in 1997 when he also met Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father. On December 17 that year, the countries' friendship was described by Chirac as "special, historic and unique".

There have been three presidents of France since Chirac, but nothing has changed. To this day, the Emirates and France show firm interest in strengthening co-operation, and cultivating closer ties between the nations. One important step in this bond was, of course, the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi.