“But today’s historic welcome for the UAE’s President will also have much greater significance than pure symbolism. Ties between our two nations have never been stronger. Today is about celebrating these links”, said the Abu Dhabi-based English daily “The National”.
As The National has reported, the state visit was initiated by the Queen herself, and it will cement not only a long-standing friendship between two royal families but also an enduring connection between two nations. There is a strong and proud Emirati community in London, and many thousands of Britons living and working here in the UAE. Links extend from the oil industry, defence, finance and property to education, health care, tourism – and even football.
Much has happened in the 24 years since Sheikh Zayed was welcomed to London with similar honours to those his son will be afforded today. From the solid foundations set by Sheikh Zayed, the UAE has continued its phenomenal growth into a modern, prosperous nation, while retaining respect for its history, culture and tradition. The relationship with Britain extends well beyond the 41-year existence of the UAE, but it is in the modern era that it has equalised and flourished.
Away from the ceremonial aspects of today and tomorrow, there will be talks among politicians and diplomats, possibly leading in the short-term to relaxed visa restrictions for Emiratis visiting the UK. Business leaders will also forge and renew links to ensure that strong partnerships thrive for many years to come; the UAE ranks as the UK’s 13th largest export market, and the value of trade between the two nations is expected to reach Dh70 billion by 2015. Energy and military matters are also likely to be discussed.
“The UAE and Britain are united in mutual respect, and occasions such as Sheikh Khalifa’s visit can work to bolster mutual interests”, concluded the paper.