New horizons for UAE-Germany relations

Future priorities are bringing more opportunities for the two countries to collaborate

Germany had one of the most popular pavilions at Dubai Expo 2020. AFP
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The UAE and Germany are united by a strong bond of friendship. We can do great things together, to assure a happy future – not only for ourselves but indeed for mankind. Our visions and strategies provide opportunities for joint action. Therefore, at this historical juncture for both countries, we look forward to joining hands for “the next 50”.

On May 17, 1972, we established diplomatic relations. In 2004, we signed a strategic partnership. In 2019, this document was upgraded on the occasion of the visit of President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, who was then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to Berlin.

Today we are confronted by major challenges in the world.

The system of international peace and security – “rule of law“, instead of ”might makes right“ – is being challenged, most brutally, but not only by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Moreover, we face a sustainability crisis. We are depleting our planet’s resources faster than they can replenish themselves. And, if we don’t emit less greenhouse gases, we will change the climate of our planet, pushing us out of the range in which human civilisation was able to flourish.

Germany and the UAE both thrive on economic openness, international co-operation and high connectivity. Therefore, we both count on a stable global network of relationships. Any disturbance affects us more than countries that have less international exposure. We are also both committed to sustainability and in particular energy transition. Germany aims to be climate neutral by 2045, the UAE by 2050.

This opens windows for deepened co-operation.

Germany has a new chancellor, Olaf Scholz. Getty

For Germany, the UAE is a significant actor with shared goals that we wish to engage with not only on all regional matters, but also on the global Sustainable Development Goals. We wish to defend international law as well as the multilateral approach and negotiations as a means of peaceful conflict resolution – in every region of the world.

Germany is one of the UAE’s leading business partners and the UAE is Germany’s most important economic partner in the Middle East. Our trading relationship will flourish. For the future, however, there is a new sweet spot. We should invest together in technologies and businesses that will form the sustainable knowledge-based economy and thereby create shared intellectual properties and new revenues streams. As the UAE transitions from a hydrocarbon-oriented economy, it will develop new sectors with deeper value-added chains at home – and German companies offer cutting-edge, competitive solutions. Our markets are mutually beneficial, because they are both platforms for regional and global activity.

Let me name two areas as examples.

One is renewable energy. We launched a bilateral ”Hydrogen Taskforce“, engaging our ministries, companies and scientists in a systematic process to advance our joint role in the hydrogen economy. Germany will need to import several hundred terawatt hours’ worth of hydrogen and derivatives annually. We can co-operate on the upstream (joint production of green fuels), the midstream (transport) and the downstream (technology for industrial use). German industry will be key use-cases for the hydrogen value chain. Already there are two German-Emirati projects to produce green hydrogen in UAE – one in Dubai, one in Abu Dhabi.

The second example is human resources. As the UAE transitions, it will prepare its work force accordingly. Now, qualifying people is in the DNA of German companies. They believe in the saying: ”If you think it is too expensive to invest in your employees, just think about how expensive it is not to.” We should make this a focal area of our co-operation. Two initiatives merit attention.

The first is “Tadreeb”. Ten German companies teamed up with the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau and Khalifa University to offer initially 10 Emirati recent university graduates 10-week internships in Germany. The interns stand a good chance of finding employment with participating companies. Launched this year, I expect it to be very successful and scaled up rapidly.

The second is ”Der Impuls“ – a six-month mentoring programme by senior executives from German companies for Emiratis, recent graduates or young professionals. The first group just completed the programme and was enthusiastic about the real-life learning experience – another initiative waiting to be scaled up.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, offering condolences to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed. AP

Also, Emirates National Schools with Germany’s GIZ just launched Centres of Excellence for Technical and Vocational Training to help Emirati girls and boys enjoy practical work in technical fields – often the basis for a good profession.

Another area would be culture. There is a meaningful intersection between our experiences to promote tolerance, prevent extremism, advance gender equality and foster happy societies. We can show how to celebrate diversity and love our differences.

We complement each other. The UAE and Germany can together make significant contributions towards a more peaceful and sustainable world. That is also our responsibility. This was the spirit of the meeting between German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Sheikh Mohamed, when they met during the condolences for the passing of Sheikh Khalifa.

Published: May 17, 2022, 3:08 AM
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