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UAE-UK relations ‘full of promise’, says paper

WAM ABU DHABI, 28th April 2013 (WAM): This week’s state visit to the United Kingdom by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan will underline the significance of an historic relationship that is ‘full of promise’ for the future, the Dubai-based Gulf News said in a special report today The President will pay his visit on 30th April and 1st May, at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth. Besides a formal state luncheon at the Queen’s royal residence of Windsor Castle, west of London, HH Sheikh Khalifa will also meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron and the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey.

Members of the delegation accompanying the President are expected to meet separately with British ministers, senior officials and leading businessmen.

Since the signing of the original peace treaties in 1820, the relationship has evolved and today, the paper reported, ” the United Arab Emirates and its friendship with the United Kingdom remains full of promise, say officials on both sides of the longstanding friendship.” “The first royal state visit by a UAE leader in 24 years this week is expected to further explore that promise. ” The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan made a state visit to the UK in 1989, while Queen Elizabeth has paid two state visits to the UAE, in 1979 and 2010.

Sheikh Khalifa will be accompanied by UAE leaders from the political, military and business sectors, the paper reported.

“There is much today to celebrate as both the UK and the UAE reflect upon growing bilateral trade that is expected to reach Dh70 billion annually by 2015,” the paper said.

“More than 100,000 UK expatriates live in the UAE — the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East – working in more than 5,000 UK businesses in the emirates which draw, alongside tourism, more than one million British visitors through 170 weekly flights between the two countries.” “The UK has confirmed it is now exploring ways to boost the 50,000 annual visits by Emiratis to the UK through relaxed visa requirements for visit visa entry into the UK.” HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs, has said that the historic visit will explore unlimited future potential of the two countries, Gulf News said.

“The State Visit of His Highness, The President, at the invitation of Her Majesty the Queen, is testament not only to the deep and historic ties between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, but also to the immense opportunities that exist in continued cooperation between our two countries. Under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, the President, the UAE is committed to further building and strengthening its bilateral relationship with the UK on all levels, with a particular focus on trade, regional and global security and education,” he said.

“UK Ambassador to the UAE Dominic Jermey said the official two-day state visit marks two centuries of alliance and the promise of stronger futures for both countries,” Gulf News added.

The paper reported Jermey as saying that “The forthcoming visit by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa to the UK reflects the special friendship between the royal families in the UK and UAE. It is a friendship borne out of a shared and unique history over 200 years and is filled by a commitment to work together for our common values and shared interests for generations to come.” “The ties between the UK and UAE are already strong. We are trusted friends and natural partners — we work closely together on the full range of bilateral areas including diplomacy and security. The announcement of the State Visit by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa signals that these ties are only getting stronger. The visit will highlight the immense regard with which the people, the Government the Royal family of the UK hold all that make up the United Arab Emirates,” Jermey added, according to Gulf News.

It quoted Edward Hobart, British Consul General in Dubai, as saying that “the State Visit of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa will set the seal on our new ways of working together.” Hobart said both countries have benefitted from their longstanding friendship, the paper reported.

“The UK is proud of the rich and prominent connections between our two countries that are getting stronger by the day. It makes me proud that UK expertise has played an important role in this and I am equally delighted by the Emirati contribution to modern UK. With this visit we can look to the future of the UK-UAE relationship with confidence and optimism,” Hobart told Gulf News.

“Both countries are helping each other weather tougher economic conditions in the global economy through shared commitments to investments, infrastructure and joint projects,” the paper quoted a British Embassy spokesperson as saying.

“British citizens have helped drive UAE prosperity and have been involved in iconic projects like the Burj Khalifa and Abu Dhabi Formula One. UK oil companies, BP and Shell, have worked with Abu Dhabi for more than 70 years,” the spokesperson said, according to the paper.

“Emirati investment in the UK is also rich and diverse. Through projects like the London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, and the Emirates Skyline, a fantastic new cable car across the River Thames in London, the UAE is contributing positively to UK society.” Gulf News also quoted Dr. Theodore Karasik, director of Research and Consultancy at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, as saying that the visit will help cement security ties as both countries work for global peace and security.

The UAE Embassy in the UK, according to Gulf News, said that the “strong UAE and UK relationship is also based on defending common values and ensuring peace. Emirati troops and British soldiers have served in Afghanistan for more than a decade, co-operating closely to ensure stability in the Helmand region in particular. The UAE and the UK are at the forefront of international efforts to challenge extremism, co-chairing the Countering Violent Extremism unit of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and are increasingly collaborating on international development.” The paper quoted the embassy as saying that the UK is a “trusted and valued friend of the United Arab Emirates.. During the volatile recent history of the region, the UAE has striven to be a source of stability, economic growth and innovation.” The embassy was also quoted as saying that both Britain and the UAE are signatories to the Defence Cooperation Accord in 1996 “which sets out arrangements for security cooperation and represents Britain’s largest defence commitment outside Nato.” WAM/TF