It has been a week of diplomacy and strengthening ties for the UAE. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, yesterday began an official visit to the UK, continuing to nurture important relationships, after the previous day meeting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Calling the UAE and the UK "natural partners and allies", British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed Sheikh Mohamed to 10 Downing Street for a second time in less than a year. Speaking to The National in London, Mr Johnson said that the discussions would build on the "long and rich history to the benefit of both our people".
The leaders held high-level talks, reviewed a military Guard of Honour and were expected to attend a UK-UAE business reception. The last time Mr Johnson received Sheikh Mohamed on Downing Street, in December, the Prime Minister congratulated him on how effectively the UAE managed to get the pandemic under control, noting the consistent and widespread testing that has allowed the Emirates to bring infections down significantly. Mr Johnson said he looked forward to driving the agenda with the UAE forward. "There is a huge amount we can do together as we work to build back better from the pandemic".
In addition to discussing bilateral and regional developments, on Thursday Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Johnson launched a "Partnership for the Future". Trade ties between the two nations are already strong, with the UAE being a a key partner for the UK. Last year trade between the two countries was worth £12 billion ($16.61bn).
The partnership has deep roots and is multifaceted, from defence to education. Many British nationals – the UAE is home to more than 100,000 of them – have called the Emirates home for decades. Six thousand UK companies do business in the UAE. The countries share multiple common interests and are looking at ways to make the relationship more future-leaning, by developing four key pillars: life sciences, technology, infrastructure and, crucially, energy transition. Mr Johnson said the meeting with Sheikh Mohamed would secure investments across the UK that would support jobs under a framework that stretches over five years. Meanwhile, the UK's £44m Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion has been built under the theme Innovating for a Shared Future.
Both sides are keen on big plans and broadening a foundation for future co-operation. Last month Britain's ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Moody, thanked the Emirates for supporting international evacuation efforts in Afghanistan and acknowledged that more than 15,000 people from Kabul landed safely in the UAE.
The mutual relationship is on its way to becoming stronger. With the range of agreements across key sectors settled on, the two nations are clearly looking ahead towards a dynamic future.