A functional working relationship with Iran is crucial to the future of stability in the Middle East, a senior UAE official has said.
Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE President, said the UAE was reaching out to all sides in the region in a bid to reduce tensions.
“We are reaching out to friends and also adversaries to build bridges,” he said in a panel session on the opening day of the World Government Summit, at Expo 2020 Dubai.
“We are not going to agree with everything they want to do. The Middle East is not only about Iran and Israel.
“Our whole intention is to find a way to functionally work with Iran and ensure there is an agenda for stability and prosperity in the region that includes Iran, and others.
“The other important element is that energy is coming back as a major component of Middle East issues.”
Earlier this month, Dr Gargash said the UAE would play an important role in dialogue to resolve crises in the Arab World, citing the recent visit of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad as an example of astute diplomacy.
Although relations with the Syrian government and the rest of the Arab world had been restored, no decision has been made on its involvement with the Arab summit scheduled for November in Algeria.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, recently said the Syrian regime was unlikely to be readmitted due to a lack of consensus from other nations.
Dr Gargash said issues between democracy and authoritarianism were not binary, with the pandemic highlighting the pros and cons of good governance.
“Ultimately, you need something in the middle of both,” he said.
“Every democratic attempt in the Arab world has turned ideological or tribal, so I’m not sure it is something we can work out successfully.
“But we do need governance, and that needs a lot of components. This is perhaps in the middle of the two.”
At the same session titled “Are we ready for a new world order?", Frederick Kempe, president and chief executive of the Atlantic Council, said legitimacy in governments accepted by citizens was the most effective way to build societies.
“The issue is having an effective government and whether people consider it legitimate,” he said. “Democracy is one way to achieve it, but there are other ways.
“Legitimacy is gained by governments that can deliver the goods and effectiveness to their people.
“People want freedom, human rights and governments to ensure order, safety and health care.
“This new era of technological change is getting fast all the time, and they can be used to enlighten and deliver better government services.”