Celebrating 50 years of bonds between Egypt and the Emirates

Five decades on, the two countries have much to be proud of

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Few relationships in the Middle East are as strong as that between Egypt and the UAE. This week, the two countries are celebrating 50 years of ties, and a three-day festival is being held in Cairo to mark the occasion.

“The relationship is unique and builds not only on brotherly ties, but the understanding of the current situation of the Mena region and the world,” said Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, in an address to officials from both countries gathered in Cairo on Tuesday.

A shared understanding of regional issues has been at the core of bilateral relations. Egypt and the UAE have worked together strongly in the interests of regional security, including by deepening their defence relationship. They run regular military exercises together, such as last year’s “Zayed 3” exercise and another this year that also included special forces from Saudi Arabia, Greece and Cyprus. In a region fraught with long-standing political and security issues, such exercises have reinforced the role that powerful allies such as the UAE and Egypt play in ensuring stability and laying the groundwork for greater prosperity.

One way in which such prosperity grows is through more intimate links at the societal level. On this front, the UAE and Egypt’s relationship goes back generations, even before the UAE’s formation 50 years ago. In his address, Mr El Sisi noted that the foundations for Egyptian-Emirati ties were laid by the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

A shared understanding of regional issues has been at the core of bilateral relations

It is a bond of which Egyptians living in the UAE are well aware. The country, one Egyptian professor at Zayed University told The National, “is a large part of my soul”. Thousands of Egyptians who call the Emirates home undoubtedly feel similarly, taking advantage of a shared language and culture to put down roots and build new lives for their families.

The sentiments also go the other way. “The economic and trade relations between Egypt and the UAE are a model for Arab and regional relations,” said Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade. That model, moreover, has borne fruits that benefit wider Egyptian society. The UAE is the number-one foreign direct investor in the Egyptian economy, and last year bilateral trade reached $7.5 billion.

Now, as Egypt gears up to host the Cop27 climate summit, the two countries will face challenges together that go beyond security and the economy. As neighbours in one of the world’s most arid regions, the UAE and Egypt will be at the forefront of efforts to safeguard the Middle East’s environment in the coming decades, sharing the expertise and technology required to ensure a sustainable future for the region. The conversation on the Middle East’s environmental future will receive a boost at Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh, and it will continue as the summit moves to the UAE next year. The two together are working to ensure global implementation of climate pledges.

Next week, on November 1, the region will also see the commencement of the Arab League summit in Algeria. Mohammed Al Gergawi, the UAE’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs, remarked on Tuesday that the world’s present geopolitical situation will call for greater co-operation between Arab countries and spur a “unity of positions”. In this respect, Egyptians and Emiratis can be assured, their countries are already in lock-step.

Published: October 27, 2022, 3:00 AM