The UAE and Turkey have defined a shared future

Thirteen new agreements have given structure to a new era in bilateral relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech at Turkey's pavilion in Dubai Expo 2020. AFP
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The world should take note of the burgeoning UAE-Turkey relationship. On a geopolitical level, it is an illustration of how regional nations are playing an increasingly important role in global affairs. Both states, who are now major economies, emerged in their current forms less than 100 years ago, the UAE in 1971 and Turkey in 1923, when its republic was established following the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

At different ends of the region, both continue to play an important strategic, economic and cultural role, and as such have much to gain from each other's prosperity. And despite some challenges in recent years, it is important to remember that significant ties have remained throughout. Commercial relations between the two got a boost last November when a UAE visit to Ankara saw the establishment of a $10 billion investment fund in Turkey, and the Emirates has consistently remained Turkey's largest trade partner in the GCC. There are now plans to double the current amount.

This decision was one among many revealed during a two-day trip by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Emirates that included meetings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the first official visit in almost a decade. On Monday, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Mr Erdogan heralded the start of a "prosperous new phase" of co-operation during meetings in Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Watan, the Presidential Palace.

High-level meetings saw no fewer than 13 new bilateral agreements, relating to subjects from health to meteorology. Other key ones included trade, industry, transport and youth matters. There was even a memorandum exchanged between both countries' state archives. This new chapter in diplomatic relations, then, is not just about exploring a shared future, but a shared past too.

A letter of intent on defence co-operation was also signed. Building such ties is a welcome effort that builds trust as the region continues to face the consequences of widespread instability, and the UAE was grateful for Mr Erdogan's condemnation of the recent Houthi terrorist attacks on civilian sites in the Emirates.

New foundations for closer relations are being built with personal ties in mind. Yesterday Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed Mr Erdogan to Expo 2020 Dubai, where the President led celebrations for his country's national day, involving a parade, as well as other activities. Mr Erdogan might only have been at Expo 2020 for a day, but there for longer is the country's pavilion, which has been showing the UAE and the world Turkey's modern identity, from its food to the huge soft power of its entertainment industry, which draws in audiences from the region and the world.

From official meetings in Abu Dhabi, to cultural exchange at Expo 2020 Dubai, in just two days the UAE and Turkey have given the world a sign that one of the Middle East's most important bilateral relationships is on a path to strong growth, partly by basing it on longstanding foundations that have stood the test of recent times, and, in equal measure, new plans for future co-operation.

Published: February 16, 2022, 3:00 AM