Yousef al Otaiba, the new UAE Ambassador to the United States, presented his credentials on Tuesday to George W Bush, the US president, at a White House ceremony that marked the official start of his posting. Mr Otaiba, 35, a security and anti-terrorism expert, has been assigned to strengthen UAE-US relations and continue the development of political, economic and cultural ties.
"The current state of UAE-US relations is excellent," he said after meeting Mr Bush. "We share common interests to advance peace and security, promote economic stability and growth and forge closer cultural and educational ties. "The UAE enjoys a broad and comprehensive relationship with the United States, based on mutual interests. I have been given a clear mission: to further strengthen the UAE's relationship with the United States."
Mr Otaiba hopes to deepen relations with the expansion of bilateral trade and a multitude of cultural and educational exchanges. The US Commerce Department lists the UAE as the United States' largest export market in the Arab world in 2007, with exports totalling US$11.6 billion (Dh42.6bn). The Guggenheim Museum and several US universities have established a presence in the country or are due to do so in the near future.
"Ambassador al Otaiba brings a new dimension and energy to the US-UAE relationship," Danny Sebright, the president of the US-UAE Business Council, said at a council meeting held in Washington DC on Tuesday to welcome the new ambassador. "We look forward to working closely with the ambassador on issues that are of importance to the US-UAE Business Council: expanding bilateral trade, promoting open investment and strengthening security ties."
Mr Otaiba studied international relations at Georgetown University and was an international fellow at the Industrial College of the US Armed Forces at the National Defense University in Washington. His new post comes at time when the UAE has assumed an enhanced role in international affairs and has deepened its security interests with the United States. UAE troops have been providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since 2003 under the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force. Their deployment followed several other missions in which the UAE has provided assistance to the United States, including Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as UN operations in Somalia and Kosovo.
Mr Bush visited the UAE in January and hosted Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, recently at Camp David. Mr Otaiba served as a senior adviser to Sheikh Mohammed and, until his new posting, as Director of International Affairs for the Court of the Crown Prince. He also served as the country's principal security, anti-terrorism and defence liaison with other governments. He succeeds Saqr Ghobash, who had served as Ambassador since March 2006.