Lundi 22 Avril 2019  

N°124 - Quatrième trimestre 2018

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     Émirats Arabes Unis
  S.E.M. / H.E. Mohamed Meer Abdalla Yousif Alraeesi

At the forefront of the global econom

The United Arab Emirates have honed a one-of-a-kind development model over the 40 years since their independence. They have the world’s third-largest oil reserves, have invested massively to diversify their economy, and can harness new drivers including state-of-the-art technology, transport, finance, renewable energy and tourism today. H.E. Mr Mohamed Meer Abdalla Yousif Alraeesi, the United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to France, told us about his views on this thundering success, highlighting the firm diplomatic drive in a geopolitical area that has a key role to play cementing international stability, and the choice to embrace dialogue between cultures.

The Diplomatic Letter: Mr. Ambassador, the United Arab Emirates celebrated the 40th anniversary of independence on the 2nd of December 2011. While your country has become a major player on the regional and international scene, what factors, in your view, explain the strength of the United Arab Emirates federation and its successful development model?

H.E. Mohamed Meer Abdalla Yousif Alraeesi: The founder of the State, H.H. the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has made efforts to strengthen the foundations of the Federation and continue building a modern state, which will forge good neighborly relations, as well as at an international level and in accordance with the principles of peace and cooperation among peoples. His vision became a role model for his successor, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the Federation and their Highness the members of the Federal Supreme Council. His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces has not deviated from this model.
Indeed, the United Arab Emirates, during the last four decades, have seen many achievements in various fields. Economically, our country has become one of the strongest economies in the region, and have demonstrated ability to not only develop but also to build coherent development plans, and ability to contain the effects of crisis in order to provide a model of sustainable development.
At the international and regional level, the foreign policy of the United Arab Emirates has seen several successes, through an active presence in the political, economic, cultural, regional and international levels, and showed a moderation and wisdom resulting from balanced policy pursued by our government. These achievements have made the country a model of the federal structure. In addition, the Emirates have a unique experience in development that could also be an example to follow for other Arab countries. Regardless of its oil wealth, the State has succeeded, through its investment in human being, to occupy an advanced position among the most developed countries in the field of human development. It is worth noting that the United Arab Emirates scored at 30th place globally in the 2011 United Nations Human Development Report and at the forefront of Arab countries. If we consider the Human Development Index, the country has jumped 25 places in the ranking over the last twenty years. Besides, the Emirates have also benefited from their wealth to effectively diversify their resources by investing in the areas of technology and the renewable energy sector.
I would add that our country contributes to ensure the harmonious coexistence between peoples because of the existence of people from two hundred nationalities in our country, with different beliefs and cultures.  

T.D.L. : Elections were held for 20 seats in the Federal National Council (FNC) for the second time on September 24, 2011. What considerations motivated the expansion of the electoral college for the occasion? Regarding the demands made by part of the Emirates society and in some Arab countries for a greater democratic opening, in your view, which other political or social reforms, could be introduced in your country?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: The second time for the election of Federal National Council UAE, held on September 24, 2011, is a very important step in the process of promoting popular participation advocated by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan who anticipated this phase by expanding the electoral base of more than twenty times the previous elections, and encouraging the participation of youth and women in the elections by increasing the proportion of their representation in elected bodies. This shows the perseverance of our wise leadership in activating the role of citizens in public debate.
Moreover, the representation of women in the current Federal Council, which is 22.3%, is clear evidence of the willingness at highest level of the State to give full attention to the role of women, encouraging them to participate and to occupy the highest positions in society. This is tied to the policy pursued by the leaders and their desire to consolidate the process of political emancipation in a gradual and balanced way. Our leaders are convinced that active participation in public life helps build a spirit of real citizenship, and contributes to citizen participation in decision-making process within the State.

T.D.L.: The third largest producer of oil, the United Arab Emirates chose to diversify their sources of growth including in the energy sector and particularly in the civilian nuclear power. Could you explain the guidelines of this strategy to prepare « post-oil »? What are the mechanisms provided for therein to accompany the formation of the United Arab Emirates labor in areas with high technological content? What role foreign investors, especially French, might play in this perspective?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: The United Arab Emirates announced in April 2008 a policy of developing a program of peaceful nuclear energy. This policy was based on strict criteria regarding transparency, safety and security. This makes our country a model for the development of peaceful nuclear energy worldwide.
This policy led and focuses on six key principles: full transparency of the operational capability, the application of the highest standards of nuclear non-proliferation, safety compliance standards, and establishing basic labor and close collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the partnership with the nations and institutions responsible with relevant experience, and its sustainable development.
To answer to your first question, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that energy demand in the United Arab Emirates is growing at an annual rate of 9%, or three times the world average. Providing a reliable source of electricity is extremely important for the country’s future growth. It is expected that a nuclear power source can meet one quarter of the electricity needs by 2020.
Regarding the Emirates labor working in this field, the UAE Foundation for Nuclear Energy could provide a variety of employment opportunities in the fields of engineering, operations and financial management, human resources, training and auditing. The number of employees by 2020 will reach 2,000, of which 60% should be Emiratis citizens. This Foundation currently works with 400 people, and the proportion of emiratization is 57%.
Finally, as regards cooperation in the future with France in this field, our two countries are discussing a general framework for the treatment of nuclear waste by French companies and French training for Emirati technicians.

T.D.L. : Like the « green » city project implemented by the Emirati group Masdar, your country has been deeply involved in the development of renewable energy. While Abu Dhabi hosts, since 2009, the headquarters of IRENA, how will your country participate in the promotion of a sustainable growth model of the global economy, whether through the UN or G20?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: The second meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 29 June 2009, approved the choice of Abu Dhabi as its permanent headquarters, and thus became the first capital of a developing country which hosts the permanent headquarters of such an important international organization dealing with major issues of humanity. The choice of the headquarters is an international recognition of the important place of United Arab Emirates on the international scene. This was made possible thanks to the policies of our leaders. This choice also reflects international confidence in the direction of the Emirates Arab Emirates on renewable energy and their ability to raise international awareness about such vital sustainable development sector.
I firmly believe that several factors played in favor of choosing the United Arab Emirates to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency:
– the vision of our political leaders,
– the dynamic action and tireless efforts of our diplomacy,
– the work environment and highly developed infrastructure of our country
– the international credibility of the United Arab Emirates from organizations of the United Nations.
– the construction of the city « Masdar » which is the first carbon-neutral city in the world and relies on renewable energy sources,
– the economic strength of the Emirates  and its adaptability to change.
It is in this context that the fifth session of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) opened on 14 January 2012 in Abu Dhabi by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. This summit is one of the leading global forums dealing with the development of clean renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmental protection.

T.D.L.: A founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the United Arab Emirates remains committed to supporting the establishment of a common market. What are the advantages of deepening regional integration for your country and what projects he intends to promote in this context, particularly in infrastructure? Taking into account mechanisms for cooperation and security within the GCC, what is your analysis of your country’s initiatives to stabilize the political crisis that Bahrain, but also Yemen went through in 2011?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: We are at a historic phase that will leave its mark on the global economy regarding the performance of major economies like the United States, China and the European Union. If you look at the positive side of this development, we find that the GCC took an opportunity to become an influential economic power contributing to the stability of the global economy.
Indeed, the GCC leaders have taken, after their summit in Kuwait, held on 15 December 2009, a series of decisions that are favorable to the creation of a common market. They also approved additional projects such as the electrical connection between the member countries and in the railways sector.
We should also mention the importance of GCC support for the common market considered as the engine of economic activities in the GCC countries, through market expansion and reducing duplication of development projects, increasing efficient use of the human resources, strengthening the negotiating position with the global economic partners, and reinvestment of economic resources in non-oil productive sectors leading to regional economic diversification.
This policy lays the foundation for a dynamic market and enhance the competitiveness of products in Gulf regional and global markets. It is self evident that this market will increase the volume of trade within the GCC, supporting the private sector by securing the best conditions of the investment on the domestic and abroad to create a large unified market.
Regarding Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and all GCC countries have pledged to ensure its safety and its national unity in order to protect its citizens. We believe that the breach of security of all countries of the Council or any action leading to discord among the citizens is a serious violation, which undermines the stability and collective security in accordance with the treaty signed by the GCC members.

T.D.L. : As a result of its commitment to the sides of the Atlantic Alliance in Kosovo, Afghanistan and more recently in Libya, the United Arab Emirates became in May 2011 the first Arab country to open a representation to that organization. Given their accession to the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), how can these institutional relations be consolidated? How does this convergence participate in the consolidation of the partnership implemented between your country and the United States?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: The United Arab Emirates, keen to help the people of Kosovo, is committed as part of the KFOR (Kosovo Force) with peacekeeping forces in agreement with NATO. In the same context, we are committed to Afghanistan and more recently in Libya.
It is also worth noting that when NATO has expressed its desire to conclude a strategic partnership with countries that share the values of peace and international cooperation, the United Arab Emirates did not hesitate to join the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in June 2004, because they believe that this initiative could contribute to maintaining regional and international security.
The Emirates have demonstrated, since joining the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, that they can have a special role with NATO partners, through their participation in the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan, or in the operation to protect the civilian population in Libya, which has helped open a new chapter in its history.
Our State’s decision to open the first permanent Arab representation at NATO and the appointment of a representative, is a clear expression of the common will to consolidate cooperative relations. It demonstrates our commitment to advance the level of this partnership that surely serves their common interests and supports peace and security.

T.D.L. : Interrupted since September 2010, the peace talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have returned to the agenda of diplomacy in the Middle East on the occasion of the Quartet meeting held in Amman in January 2012. How can the Arab Peace initiative member countries, which includes the United Arab Emirates, encourage the resumption of direct negotiations?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: The Palestinian question is the main cause of the Arab and Muslim world. It is placed at the heart of foreign policy in the United Arab Emirates who have always provided political and financial support for the Palestinian people, and defended their rights in international forums. Our country has continued to demand an end to Israeli occupation as a prelude to stability in the whole region.
During his speech to the UN General Assembly, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Foreign Minister, emphasized the paramount importance of ending the occupation in order to reach the stage of the peace in the Middle East and end the Arab-Israeli conflict, because this desired peace is the sin qua non condition of stability in all countries of this region.
The United Arab Emirates have demanded not only the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories, and the final withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 lines (before the war), including East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the South of Lebanon, in order to achieve the just, comprehensive and lasting peace in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council, and the principle of exchanging « land against peace » that is registered in the Arab Peace Initiative.
To do this, The United Arab Emirates launched the call for a return to the negotiating table to find a peaceful and definitive solution to this conflict for the Palestinians to establish their independent and viable state.

T.D.L. : Illustrating their diplomatic activism, the United Arab Emirates increase their participation in intergovernmental organizations like the African Union of which they are members as observers since 2011. What contribution your country will bring to the construction of Africa? With its position at the crossroads of Arab, African and Asian worlds, how relations with the European Union can be intensified? More generally, what vision of multilateralism and dialogue among civilizations can lead this initiative as well as its accession, as an observer state, to the International Organization of La Francophonie (0IF) in 2010?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: Membership of the United Arab Emirates as an observer for the African Union shows the importance that our country gives to the promotion and consolidation of Arab-African relations. It is a policy of openness and international cooperation led by the leaders of our country. This will allow us to work together for common interests, to coordinate our views in international fora and to develop cooperation in investment and trade.
As for our relations with the European Union, I would say they are solid and promising, at the level of bilateral relations with individual European countries, and in cooperation with the European Union by coordinating our common positions in international fora.
In addition, our membership of the International Organization de la Francophonie as an observer member demonstrates our commitment to the principles of cultural diversity implies an openness to other cultures and emphasizing the dialogue between them.

T.D.L. : Sharing cultural and political ties, the UAE and France celebrate in 2012 the 15th anniversary of their strategic partnership. What are the areas where you would like to see this strategic partnership enhance? To what extent can we consider the developed dimension of intelligence and high-level military exchanges as a major component of this partnership? What other aspects, in your view, can be further intensified as regards the regional security challenges?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: The bilateral relations between the United Arab Emirates and France are the result of political will that has always ensured the establishment of an exemplary strategic partnership in various fields. They are not obviously limited to political cooperation, but they also extend to the economy, tourism, education, culture and a military and strategic cooperation. Other areas were not forgotten, bilateral cooperation, agriculture, energy, industry, medicine, telecommunications, aviation, electricity, water and environment. Moreover, they include other sectors such as trade and exchange of experiences, training and education and working together in international organizations.

T.D.L. : H.H. the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first President of the United Arab Emirates, has developed a vision of your country’s foreign policy making the Rapprochement of Cultures one of its main pillars. Do you feel that this vision has been accomplished by the implementation in your country of French universities or cultural institution like the Louvre? How would you describe the mutual contributions of these civil society initiatives for UAE and French?

H.E.M.M.A.Y.A.: As I have already emphasized it, the United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy is characterized by moderation and wisdom which flows from the principles built with H.H. the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the country. It is based on a set of principles to serve the best interests of the country, and the development of friendly relations with all foreign countries, and support the causes of right and justice in the world.
As part of the dialogue between cultures that we support, is inscribed the formal agreement, signed on 6 March 2007, between the French government and the UAE government for the opening of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi in 2013. Another agreement was signed between our two countries on establishing the prestigious Sorbonne University in the Emirates territory that receives many Emirati and foreign students in recent years. This cultural cooperation policy is proof of a common will among the leaders of both countries to deepen cooperation frameworks in various fields related to it.
Finally, we hope that the policy of openness and dialogue will be reflected positively with the two friendly peoples and thus contribute to the promotion of the principles of peace and brotherhood among peoples.   

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