The UAE And France: A Strategic Partnership And Consensus In Facing Global Challenges
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France have a longstanding strategic partnership as they derive their strength from the support and directives of the leadership of the two countries represented by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Over the past year, the relationship between the two countries faced various types of regional and international challenges. However, both countries played an outstanding role in eradicating extremism, hate speech and intolerance and spreading the concepts of tolerance and coexistence among religions and societies. Both countries are keen to face global challenges and achieve sustainable development for people. The UAE and France are strategic partners in a broad spectrum of global issues to establish peace and prosperity in the countries.
The UAE-French relations
According to WAM, the relationship between both countries goes back to the establishment of the UAE Federation in 1971 because some French petroleum companies like “Total” were engaged in oil exploration in the UAE during that time.
The relationship between both countries was strengthened after the first visit of the former president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to France in 1976. The two countries also established the UAE-France Strategic Dialogue, which began its work for the first time in 2008.
In June 2020, a new roadmap for their strategic partnership was adopted for the next ten years, a time period of 2020-2030.
The agreements between the UAE and France
Over the past year, the UAE and France signed dozens of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) in various fields, including economic, cultural, military and environmental fields. Last year, 13 agreements were signed during the visit of the French President to the UAE.
Both countries also have distinguished economic and investment relations. The total volume of non-oil foreign trade between both countries reached more than AED 25.2 billion by the end of 2021.
France’s investment in the UAE
France is one of the main foreign investors in the UAE. France’s direct investments in the UAE were about 2.5 billion euros by the end of 2020. The UAE also ranks 35th on the list of foreign investors in France.
With the partnership, they opened the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a museum in Abu Dhabi, and the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, which was established in 2006. The UAE also contributed 5 million euros to support the Arab World Institute in Paris, the capital of France, in 2017. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Hall was also inaugurated at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2017.
Emirati-French cultural cooperation
In 2018, Emirati-French cultural cooperation was announced in Paris. In the same year, a pilot phase programme was implemented to introduce the French language in all public schools in the UAE. More than 60,000 students are now learning French in the country. The number of the French community residing in the UAE is about 25,000.
In 2019, the UAE gave a 10-million-euro donation for the restoration of Chateau de Fontainebleau’s 19th-century theatre in France, and accordingly, the theatre was re-named after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
In the field of education, the French High Schools was accredited in the UAE, which constituted the sixth largest French school network in the world in terms of enrolment, with more than 10,000 students.