The UAE's push for diplomacy at the UN

The UAE stressed its objective of building bridges and strengthening key partnerships

UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation Reem Al Hashimy addresses the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly. Bloomberg
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When it was the UAE's turn to take the stage at the 77th UN General Assembly, Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, made clear the country's stance on a number of issues.

Ms Al Hashimy covered a broad range of topics in her address but the unifying message was clear: diplomacy comes first and is an unarguable case for building bridges. The country has always committed itself to this forward-thinking approach. Two years since the Abraham Accords were signed between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, regional integration has become increasingly evident.

Ms Al Hashimy told fellow representatives in the assembly hall on Saturday afternoon of the UAE's stance to resolve tensions and conflicts by engaging with other nations, illustrating how effective dialogue has been for the country and remains its preferred approach to de-escalate tensions in the region. "The Arab world and Africa have been hit the hardest by different crises," Ms Al Hashimy said. “As a direct result, we have learnt difficult yet critical lessons: we must prioritise diplomatic solutions, dialogue and de-escalation in order to settle tensions, prevent conflicts from emerging and combat extremist ideologies.”

There are a number of areas in which overcoming historic differences and building new partnerships bear fruit and can be seen, most clearly across "critical sectors, such as health, education and industry, as well as in strengthening the role of women".

Not lost on the assembly, perhaps, was the fact that Ms Al Hashimy was the first woman delivering a speech for the UAE at the UN.

It is not just a matter of Arab women being unequally represented. Since the UN's inception, female speakers have been far fewer than males, with diplomacy traditionally the preserve of men. The fact that in the 77 years of the UN, a mere four women have been elected president of UNGA speaks to this imbalance. India's Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in 1953 was the first. Decades later, in 2006, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain was president of the 61st UNGA, the first woman to hold the position since 1969 – and yet only the third woman since the UN was founded. Such discrepancies make it all the more important that the UAE reiterated its stance that "a full, equal and meaningful participation of women in various fields contributes to building societies".

The overarching agenda for the UAE remains to strengthen bilateral ties and multilateralism, indispensable tools to maintain regional and global stability. At the UN this past week, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, met several of his counterparts in the interest of working together to maintain peace in the region. They included Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, with whom he discussed bilateral relations and enhanced co-operation. Sheikh Abdullah was understood to be holding more than 70 bilateral meetings, as ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the UN, told The National last week.

With a day more to go for this year's UNGA to wrap up, there is hope that the high-level meetings that have taken place will chart a new course in helping the world cope with threats of climate, terror and conflict. As the UAE prepares to host Cop28, as next year's UN climate summit is called, it is clear that the country's priorities are oriented towards strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones. They remain the key not just to stability in the region but to a stable future.

Published: September 26, 2022, 2:00 AM