UAE-France relationship 'has gone to another level', says ambassador

Envoy Xavier Chatel highlights UAE's growing popularity for French citizens

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The importance of President Sheikh Mohamed’s state visit to Paris cannot be overestimated, the French ambassador to the UAE said on Thursday.

Xavier Chatel, France's envoy to the Emirates since 2020, said his country was honoured the UAE leader chose France for his first official state visit, as it showed the value of the bond between the two nations.

“For His Highness to decide that France would be his first state visit is something we cannot underestimate,” said Mr Chatel, speaking at an event to discuss the importance of President Sheikh Mohamed’s first state visit.

“The fact that the trust between the countries was strong enough, that France would be chosen for his first state visit as president is hugely appreciated by French authorities.”

Sheikh Mohamed concluded his successful inaugural state visit to Paris on Tuesday, during which he met with French President Emmanuel Macron and witnessed the signing of two important energy deals.

The first was a comprehensive renewable energy strategy between the UAE and France, while the second was a partnership agreement between Adnoc and TotalEnergies.

Oil exploration was one of the key topics of discussion during the state visit, said Mr Chatel.

“We signed a comprehensive strategic energy partnership which will allow us to develop investment in the field of renewables,” he said.

“The relationship has gone to another level.”

The UAE has become an increasingly popular destination for French citizens, said Mr Chatel.

“The French population here is growing steadily,” he said. "Between 2017 and 2021 it grew by 35 per cent.

“It’s a sizeable increase for what was already one of the largest French communities abroad.”

About 30,000 French people currently live in the UAE and more than 600 French companies operate in the Emirates.

Promoting peace

The ambassador praised the UAE for normalising relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords.

“The Abraham Accords is something that we wholeheartedly support,” he said.

“It’s a great development that fosters regional peace and stability. Hopefully, we will see more countries signing up.

“France has a record of being proactive in trying to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians and we will remain committed to peace in the region.”

The UAE and Israel signed the historic Abraham Accords in 2020 at a ceremony in the White House.

The agreement was the first between an Arab country and Israel in more than a quarter of a century.

Israel said it would suspend its plans to annex occupied Palestinian territories, as part of the agreement.

Updated: July 21, 2022, 5:54 PM