Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, carried out an official visit to the UK on Thursday to launch a new era in ties between the two countries.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted Sheikh Mohamed at 10 Downing Street in central London for a wide-ranging discussion and launch of a Partnership for the Future between the two nations.
"The Prime Minister congratulated the United Arab Emirates on the fiftieth anniversary of its founding in 1971," a joint communique from the meeting declared.
During the visit they went to nearby Horse Guards Parade to review a military guard of honour before attending a UK-UAE business reception and a lunch.
Sheikh Mohamed looked forward to another half century of close relations with the UK.
"One of the most important aspects of our developmental projects for the next 50 years is promoting developmental partnerships with various countries of the world, especially with the UK," said Sheikh Mohamed.
The UAE and the UK have agreed to establish a "Partnership for the Future" based on two main pillars: driving sustainable prosperity and addressing global issues.
The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and the UK’s Foreign Secretary will co-chair an annual strategic dialogue to review and drive progress, and promote multilateralism.
The two countries said they would work closely together during the UAE's 2022-2023 term as a member of the United Nations Security Council. It was noted that Britain's historic ties and strategic interests with the Gulf region and the Middle East grant the UK a significant role in ensuring security and stability of the region.
The partnership is a launch pad for enhancing trade, investment and innovation. The meeting reviewed co-operation in areas such as life sciences, innovation, energy, illicit finance, education, security, development, culture, climate, health and food security.
In a series of messages on Twitter, Sheikh Mohamed said the visit would strengthen the UAE's international relationships and deepen co-operation with the UK.
The two men witnessed the signing of economic agreements at the residence of the UK's head of government.
“I was pleased to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson for in-depth talks in London today,” Sheikh Mohamed said.
“Together, we discussed ways of further strengthening the robust [and] long-standing strategic ties between the UAE and the UK and other areas of mutual interest in the region and around the world.”
Mr Johnson paid tribute to the role of the UAE in the recent events in Afghanistan as the country helped with evacuations when the Taliban took over in Kabul last month.
The British leader spoke in the Pillared Room at Downing Street before an audience of business leaders, bankers and senior politicians, including new International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
“The evacuation of British nationals from Afghanistan would not have been possible without the friendship and support of the UAE. So today, I would like to say a big, big thank you to you,” Mr Johnson said.
“This relationship is of huge importance to me personally.”
Mr Johnson said that the investment deals signed by the two countries constituted a groundbreaking partnership.
“This new sovereign investment partnership is different in scale and ambition to any other.
“We are seeing the UK and UAE doing things together and a great fusion of our efforts,” he said.
“If this relationship is the Burj Khalifa we are currently just at the ground floor, but today we are taking it up to the top floor.”
Mr Johnson said that a low-carbon future was a shared objective. “We will tackle problems like Covid and climate change together. This is a synching of the UK’s and UAE’s long-term objectives,” he said.
“I am very excited by the partnership.”
Before the meeting, Mr Johnson told The National that the discussions would build on the “long and rich history to the benefit of both our people".
“The UK and the UAE are natural partners and allies, with a shared belief in harnessing the technologies of the future to address climate change, solve global issues and deliver prosperity for our people,” he said.
“I look forward to welcoming His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to London today to drive this agenda forward.
“There is a huge amount we can do together as we work to build back better from the pandemic.”
The trip comes after Sheikh Mohamed met French President Emmanuel Macron near Paris on Wednesday.
Mr Johnson said Thursday's meeting would secure investments across the UK in life sciences, technology, energy transition and infrastructure.
This would support jobs and his government’s agenda to “level up” – to increase prosperity in poorer regions – across the UK.
Both sides would welcome an ambitious partnership that set a broad foundation for future co-operation, drove progress in science and innovation and supported security and prosperity, he said.
The partnership will be underpinned by annual UK-UAE Strategic Dialogues, beginning this year and chaired by the foreign ministers of both sides.
Illicit finance, education, security, development, culture, climate, health and food security were on the agenda.
The coming Expo 2020 Dubai was an opportunity for the UK to raise its profile in the region. "We are confident that Britain's participation will pave the way for more opportunities for economic and development partnership between our two countries," said Sheikh Mohamed. "In the UAE, we seek to make this event a turning point on the road to promoting global economic recovery, establishing global partnerships, and finding common ground to confront global challenges."
With a framework for investments stretching over five years, the UK and UAE will jointly pursue ambitious net-zero targets that “turbocharged” the clean energy transition.
The UAE is already a key partner for the UK, with total trade between the two countries worth £18.6bn and joint investment flows of £13.4bn in 2019.
“The UAE and the UK share a long and rich history, but with today’s agreement we are looking to the future,” Mr Johnson said.
“By working ever more closely together, our nations will be at the forefront of the industries of the future, helping to tackle climate change and boost prosperity.
“Ambitious partnerships like this are central to the government’s strategy to be a leading global force in science and technology, driving major investments to level up across the UK and create high-value jobs,” he said.
“We will turbocharge this at next month’s Global Investment Summit in London.”
Sheikh Mohamed last held talks with Mr Johnson at Downing Street last December, when they discussed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East.