UAE's Hend Al Otaiba on what makes France a special ally

Ambassador to France says culture, shared values and a global outlook make the nations close partners

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The UAE and France cemented their relationship during a high-level meeting between their presidents this week.

President Sheikh Mohamed and France's Emmanuel Macron sat down to look at how they could tackle some of the most pressing issues today.

Their countries signed deals to bring about greater energy security, at a time of oil and gas shortages in Europe, and work together on sustainability and renewables.

Here, Hend Al Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to France, tells The National what makes the nations more than just friends.

What makes France a closer ally than other countries?

"The relationship with France is not one solely based on agreements but also on a common vision for the world and an understanding of each other’s cultures," Ms Al Otaiba said.

"Our ties run deep, and France was one of our first allies back in the 1970s. This special relationship has developed for more than four decades, and now englobes deep and rich collaborations across political, economic, and cultural fields.

"We are proud to host the largest French and Francophone expatriate community in the Gulf, and to be part of a large-scale cooperation on culture and education with a country, for which these themes hold the same importance as they do for us.

"The Louvre Abu Dhabi and the International Organisation of Francophonie programmes are just two examples of that bond."

What will the UAE see in the future?

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed and French President Emmanuel Macron with UAE ambassador to France Hend Al Otaiba at Fontainebleau Palace, Paris, in September 2021. Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs

"The relationship between France and the UAE is rich and diverse, but still maintains great potential for growth and development in new, innovative fields such as sustainability, technology and health.

"Our partnership is one of bilateral collaboration, with the potential to address the greatest challenges facing our world today, from climate change to economic sustainability.

"There are no limits to our collaboration, and our areas of common impact can be expected to grow in the coming years."

How is the UAE developing these ties and how will both sides benefit?

"The ties between France and the UAE are regularly nurtured by both parties through the trusted relationship between our two embassies, but also through regular communications between our two presidents, and the work of our common institutions - from parliamentary friendship groups to operational business councils.

"Our relationship is one of synergies at all levels - from the institutional to the professional and the personal.

"The benefits of the France-UAE partnership are not limited to both countries but reverberate globally. Our collaboration on sustainable energy brings together skills and knowledge to develop technologies that will be used globally.

"Our work against extremism ensures the security of people from various countries and cultures. The combination of our respective regional leaderships allows us to harness international support on key issues."

Updated: July 20, 2022, 12:07 PM