UAE President Sheikh Mohamed arrives in Paris for state visit

UAE leader is meeting President Emmanuel Macron

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President Sheikh Mohamed cemented the UAE's relationship with France on Monday as he met Emmanuel Macron on his first state visit.

The UAE leader warmly embraced the French President on a bright and sunny day in Paris, describing Mr Macron as a friend and his country as one of the Emirates' closest allies.

"I was pleased to arrive in France, a close strategic ally of the UAE, and meet my friend President Emmanuel Macron," Sheikh Mohamed wrote on Twitter in Arabic, English and French.

"Our countries enjoy longstanding partnerships across many fields. We look forward to further collaborations and strengthening ties towards a prosperous future."

Our countries enjoy longstanding partnerships across many fields. We look forward to further collaborations and strengthening ties towards a prosperous future
President Sheikh Mohamed

Sheikh Mohamed met Mr Macron and his wife Brigitte at the Elysee Palace, the president's residence.

During a private lunch, the two leaders "reviewed new agreements that expand decades of partnership and collaboration between the UAE and France across investment, the economy, cultural exchange, scientific innovation, advanced technology, future energy, food security and climate change", UAE news agency Wam said.

"Collaboration across energy of all kinds is critical, noting that the UAE is committed to supporting energy security to all people."

Mr Macron has placed the Middle East firmly on his agenda in recent years.

Sheikh Mohamed "discussed the important role that France has undertaken in the Middle East, noting his interest in continuing to work together with France to promote peace, stability, and security for all in the region", Wam said, with a focus on "favouring de-escalation, peaceful co-existence and relationship building".

Watch: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed meets French President Emmanuel Macron

Watch: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed meets French President Emmanuel Macron

The UAE leader "reiterated the common interest that the UAE and France share in confronting climate change, including the opportunity to move forward with clear action at Cop28, which will be hosted in the UAE in 2023".

President Macron awarded Sheikh Mohamed the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. Sheikh Mohamed granted President Macron the Order of Zayed, the UAE's highest civilian honour.

Earlier, Sheikh Mohamed and a delegation of ministers and senior officials began the day with a visit to the historic Les Invalides complex, home to the Military Museum.

There, he visited the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte within the Dome des Invalides.

The decision to select France as Sheikh Mohamed's first state visit is considered highly significant and a recognition of the strength of ties between the two countries and their leaders.

On Monday, Emirati flags adorned the streets around the palaces.

Later, Sheikh Mohamed travelled a short distance to Luxembourg Palace, where the Senate is located.

There, he was greeted by President of the Senate Gerard Larcher and smiled for photographs before entering the palace.

Sheikh Mohamed was accompanied by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, and Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, managing director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

In the Luxembourg Palace guestbook, Sheikh Mohamed wrote: "I am pleased to visit the Senate premises in Luxembourg Palace. This is a historic establishment that witnessed important events in French history, which also represents great architecture and the creativity of human civilisation.

"I look forward to having this visit be considered as a starting point to continue to develop friendly relations between the UAE and France, to bolster the communications between our citizens, and to enhance collaboration."

'We both want a stable Middle East'

Mr Larcher told journalists he was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the Cop28 climate conference, which will be hosted at Expo City Dubai in November 2023, and "a lot about the energy issue, which is very important".

Both nations want to see greater stability in the Middle East, he said.

During the two-day visit, an agreement in the field of energy is expected, while a second will relate to the establishment of a French-Emirati business council.

In the evening, Mr Macron received Sheikh Mohamed for a state dinner at the Grand Trianon, within the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.

Sheikh Mohamed will meet top French officials during his two-day visit, including Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and President of the National Assembly Yael Braun-Pivet, Wam reported.

Recent visits

Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Macron last met in May, when the French president visited Abu Dhabi briefly to pay tribute to President Sheikh Khalifa after his death.

Sheikh Mohamed previously visited France in September 2021, while serving as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

During that visit he met Mr Macron in Paris for talks on the long-standing strategic ties between the nations.

After that trip, the UAE and France issued a joint statement in which Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Macron hailed the "strong and historic bilateral ties between the two countries since the founding of the UAE in 1971".

The statement underlined a "commitment to overcome regional challenges, and their shared determination to counter extremism, fight terrorism and strengthen their co-operation in the security and defence fields".

Sheikh Zayed's early ties to France

Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, first visited Paris in 1951 as part of the Abu Dhabi delegation in an international arbitration to determine offshore oil drilling rights.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, in 1975, he returned again, as President of the UAE and guest of the French president at the time, Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

Mr Giscard would pay a return visit in 1980.

Updated: July 19, 2022, 6:24 AM