Foreign relations of the United Arab Emirates

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United Arab Emirates

Since the establishment of the United Arab Emirates on 2 December 1971, the UAE adopted a balanced foreign policy based on adoption of dialogue, respect of international conventions, commitment to the United Nations Charter and non-interference of other country's internal affairs, and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means

One of the main anchorers of the UAE’s foreign policy has been building cooperation-based relations with all countries of the world. Substantial development assistance has increased the UAE's stature among recipient states. Most of this foreign aid (in excess of $15 billion) has been to Arab and Muslim countries.

Multilateral relations[edit]

UAE has joined the United Nations and the Arab League and has established diplomatic relations with more than 60 countries, including China, South Korea, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, India, Nepal, United States, and most Western European countries. It has played a moderate role within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), the United Nations, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The UAE believes that the Arab League needs to be restructured to become a viable institution, and would like to increase the strength and interoperability of the GCC defense forces.

The UAE is a member of the following international organizations: UN and several of its specialized agencies (ICAO, ILO, UPU, WHO, WIPO); World Bank, IMF, Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), OPEC, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement.

In October 2010, the UAE was granted observer status at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie [1]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Algeria See Algeria–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Algeria has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Algiers.
 Egypt See Egypt–United Arab Emirates relations

Since the establishment of UAE in 1971, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates relations were always at a good level and developing at an unprecedented rate. The bond of friendship between the leaders of both countries has reflected on the growing political, economic and cultural ties between them, as a result, UAE ranks first among Arab and foreign countries investing in Egypt.[2] UAE and Egypt maintain a close economic ties and maintain trade between the two countries with imports and exports between the two sides.


The United Arab Emirates is a member of the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed is quoted stating the UAE are using "logistical facilities at the port and airport" in the southern city of Assab.[3] Human Rights Watch reported that the UAE maintains a detention facility at the Assab base, where it may have transferred high-profile prisoners out of Yemen.[4]

 Kenya See Kenya–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Kenya has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Nairobi.

The United Arab Emirates established an embassy in Dakar in March 2018, which was unveiled by Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.[5] The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development loaned Senegal $13 million to invest in rural solar energy.[5]

 Somalia See Somalia–United Arab Emirates relations

Relations between the territories of the present-day United Arab Emirates and Somalia stretch back to antiquity. The 1st century CE Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, among other documents, reports early commercial exchanges between traders inhabiting kingdoms in both areas.[6] During the Middle Ages and early modern period, the various Emirati sultanates also maintained close relations with the Somali Sultanates.

In 1969, the United Arab Emirates and Somalia were among the founding members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Both nations are also members of the League of Arab States. In the ensuing period, the UAE maintained diplomatic relations with the Somali Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government, and supported their government initiatives.[7] The subsequent establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012 was welcomed by the Emirati authorities, who re-affirmed the UAE's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.[8]

In late March 2013, the Emirati and Somalia Foreign Ministries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation. The agreement focuses on the political, security, economic, investment and development sectors.[9]

The United Arab Emirates maintains an embassy in Mogadishu.[10] Additionally, the Somali Federal Government has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.[11]

 Tanzania See Tanzania–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Tanzania has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Dar es Salaam.


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
  • Argentina has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Buenos Aires.
 Canada 1974 See Canada–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Canada has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.[14]
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Ottawa.[15]
  • Chile has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Santiago.
 Colombia 1976
  • Colombia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Bogotá.
 Mexico 12 September 1975 See Mexico–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Mexico has an embassy in Abu Dhabi[16] and a trade office in Dubai.[17]
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Mexico City.[18]
  • Peru has a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Lima.
 United States 1972 See United Arab Emirates–United States relations

The UAE’s strategic relationship with the United States dates back to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Subsequent to joining the military effort, the two countries signed an agreement in late 1992 allowing for US bases on Emirati soil.[19] July 25, 1994, a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement has been in place.[20] Ten years later, despite publicly opposing the US led war on Iraq, the UAE permitted a minimal amount of US forces to support the operation from the Al Dhafra air base, Jebel Ali, and naval facilities at Fujairah. Enhancing security relations, has been a US arms sale in March 2000 to the Emirates, valued at $8 billion and included over $2 billion worth of weapons, munitions, and services.[21]

A nuclear deal was signed between the US and the UAE meant to supply nuclear technology, expertise and fuel. Despite international opposition to neighboring Iran’s nuclear developments, the US is confident of the UAE’s compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to refrain from enriching uranium and extracting plutonium.[22] It firmly believes this agreement "has the potential to usher in an era of responsible nuclear-energy development throughout the Middle East.”Global, "New U.S.-U.A.E. Deal Raises Eyebrows Amid Concern Over Iran's Nuclear Program," January 16, 2009[23]

Commercially, the UAE is also the States' largest export market in the Middle East constituting $11.6 billion in exports annually. In March 2005, the US opened negotiations on a free trade agreement and despite recent increasing depreciation of currencies in the Persian Gulf area, the UAE dirham remains pegged to the plunging dollar.[24] The two countries have also maintained close ties through an exchange of cultural and educational partnerships which include the Guggenheim Museum, and a number of American Universities opening campuses in the Emirates.[25]

  • United Arab Emirates is accredited to Uruguay from its embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Uruguay has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.


Country Formal Relations Began Notes

Relations between Afghanistan are politically and economically strong. This is because the UAE has a small humanitarian military presence in Afghanistan. UAE troops have been welcomed by the country as allied Muslim soldiers and the Emirati soldiers compliment the Afghan hospitality they encounter.[28] Protests from Kabul arose when the victim in the torture tape with Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan brutally beating a man who is believed to be an Afghan grain merchant that ripped him off for only $5,000.[29]

  • Diplomatic relations between Armenia and the UAE were established on June 25, 1998.
  • Armenia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • The United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Yerevan.
 Bahrain See Bahrain–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Bahrain has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Manama.

The diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates are strong. The UAE is 2nd largest remittance country for Bangladesh after Saudi Arabia. The UAE also funds a lot of projects in Bangladesh.

 China See China–United Arab Emirates relations
  • China has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Beijing and consulates-general in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
  • The UAE and China have been strong international allies, with significant cooperation across economic, political and cultural aspects.[30][31][32][33]

Diplomatic relations between Georgia and the UAE were initiated on 20 October 1992.[34] The countries are represented in each other through embassies.[34]

 India See India–United Arab Emirates relations

UAE enjoys close economic and cultural relations with India. Close maritime contact between India and the Arabian Peninsula date back to 3rd and 2nd millennium BC.[35] and textile and spice trade between the two countries flourished during most of 1st millennium AD.[36]

The discovery of oil allowed the UAE to increase and diversify its trade relations with India. UAE and India are each other's main trading partners. The trade totals over $75 billion (AED275.25 billion).[37] During the first half of 2010, non-oil trade between India and the UAE stood at US$20.4 billion.[38] UAE is home to more than 1.75 million Indian expatriates, making Indians the second largest ethnic group in the nation.[39]

 Indonesia See Indonesia–United Arab Emirates relations

The diplomatic relations between Indonesia and United Arab Emirates are important because both share the solidarity as Muslim majority countries, and both countries recognize the important role of each counterpart in the region. Since the diplomatic relations established in 1976, both countries enjoy a friendly and cordial relationship. Indonesia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi, while the United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Jakarta. Both countries are partners in multilateral organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), The Non-Aligned Movement and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Indonesia uses the UAE as the main gate to enter the Persian Gulf and Middle East market, Indonesia's export to UAE is the largest in the Middle East. Indonesian Government has established the trade and investment representative office to promote its products in United Arab Emirates and the entire Middle East region.

 Iran See Iran–United Arab Emirates relations

The UAE maintains very close economic ties with Iran based on long-standing relations, dating back hundreds of years. It also has a significant Iranian community. However, Iran claims three islands in the Persian Gulf (Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb) which has been subject of dispute by the UAE.

As for the Iran's nuclear program, given that the UAE adopt the principle of not interfering in the internal matters of others, The UAE chose not to interfere with Iran's nuclear program as long as Iran continues to reassure the world that the program is peaceful. The UAE announced its position concerning all kinds of weapons of mass destruction is that the UAE calls for the freeing of the Middle East region from all such weapons.[citation needed]

 Iraq See Iraq–United Arab Emirates relations

The Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait were a shock to the UAE. For the UAE, the crisis over Kuwait demonstrated a lack of Arab unity on a critical Arab issue. The UAE joined the Arab states that opposed the Iraqi invasion and supported the use of force to compel Iraq's withdrawal of troops from Kuwait.[40] Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq in 2003, the UAE opposed the US led invasion.

In June 2008, the Iraqi government announced that the United Arab Emirates would send an ambassador to Baghdad within a few days. This would become the first Arab ambassador in Iraq since the kidnapping and murder of the Egyptian Ambassador Ihab el-Sherif in July 2005. This announcement was made during a surprise visit by the United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Baghdad on 5 June 2008. This marked the first time a high-ranking official from a Gulf state visited Iraq since March 2003.[41][42]

On 31 July 2007 following Iraq victory of the Asian Cup, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE awarded the Iraq National football team 20 million Dhs, ($5.2 million) for capturing the Asian Cup for the first time in the country’s history.[43]

 Israel See Israel–United Arab Emirates relations

Neither country have formal diplomatic relations with each other.


Diplomatic relations between UAE and Japan were established as early as UAE's independence in December 1971.[44] The two countries had always enjoyed friendly ties and trade between each other, exports from UAE to Japan include crude oil and natural gas and imports from Japan to UAE include cars and electronics items.[44]

 Kuwait See Kuwait–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Kuwait has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Kuwait City.
 Malaysia See Malaysia–United Arab Emirates relations

United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.[45] The countries established diplomatic relations in 1983.[46]

In 2005 Malaysia’s export to the UAE stood at Dh7 billion. Main export items were gold and jewellery, wood products (furniture and parts), palm oil, petroleum products and electrical appliances. In 2007, trade between Malaysia and UAE was worth MYR 14.56 billion making UAE, Malaysia's largest trading partner in West Asia as well as Malaysia being the 10th largest exporter to UAE.[47] In 2009, Malaysian ambassador Datuk Yahaya Abdul Jabar said total trade between Malaysia and UAE from January to November stood at RM19.5 billion. Malaysia's main exports to the UAE are jewellery, consumer electronics and palm oil.[48]

 North Korea 2007-09-19[49]
 Oman See Oman–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Oman has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Muscat.
 Pakistan See Pakistan–United Arab Emirates relations

Pakistan and the UAE are very close allies with extremely close relations based on cultural affinities and shared faith. These relations date back to the UAE's formation in 1971, and have since developed into wide-ranging co-operation in various fields. UAE has been a major donor of economic assistance to Pakistan.[50] Sheikh Zayed International Airport in Rahim Yar Khan, in the Punjab province of Pakistan is an example of UAE's economic assistance as the late president and the founder of the UAE Sheikh Zayed donated the airport to the government of Pakistan.

Pakistan was also the first country to accord formal recognition to UAE on its achieving independence.[51] UAE has emerged as one of Pakistan's major economic and trading partners. A large number of Pakistani expatriates, numbering nearly 400,000 are gainfully employed in UAE.[citation needed]

 Qatar Dipolmatic ties ended on 5 June 2017 See Qatar–United Arab Emirates relations

In June 2017, the government of United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties with Qatar due to allegations of Qatar being a state sponsor of terrorism. Previously, the UAE withdrew its ambassadors from Qatar in 2014 due to the Qatari government-funded Al Jazeera broadcast of Yusuf al-Qardawi publicly defaming the government of UAE.[52][53]

 Saudi Arabia See Saudi Arabia–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Saudi Arabia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Riyadh and a consulate-general in Jeddah.
 South Korea 18 June 1980[54]
  • The establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Korea began on 18 June 1980.
  • UAE is the 3rd largest exporter of oil to South Korea (108,000,000 barrels 2014).
  • The United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Seoul.
  • South Korea has an embassy Abu Dhabi.[54]


The UAE’s liberal climate towards foreign cooperation, investment and modernization have prompted extensive commercial ties with western countries, and subsequently resulting in even closer cultural relations. The country remains a major global tourist and foreign direct investment destination but a few countries play a more significant role than the rest.

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
  • Albania has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates is accredited to Albania from its embassy in Rome, Italy.
 Denmark See Denmark–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Denmark has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates is accredited to Denmark from its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
 France See France–United Arab Emirates relations

The UAE’s relationship with France has been strategically important as it negotiated a defence cooperation agreement and remains one of the country’s primary providers of military material.[55] France and the UAE have signed a defence cooperation agreement in order to diversity its procurement from solely the US.[55] Culturally, as the Sorbonne and Louvre are both establishing extensions in the UAE,[56] a plan is in the works to recreate a miniature Lyon city in Dubai complete with public squares, restaurants and museums.[57]

On May 25, 2009, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy visited the UAE, Abu Dhabi where he along with UAE's president H.H Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan formally opened a French military base in the United Arab Emirates. This would become France's first permanent base in the Persian Gulf, hosting up to 500 French troops.[58] In addition to the inauguration of Peace Camp, Nicolas Sarkozy visited the site of a Louvre Museum branch which France is opening in the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the co-operation with France is a top priority for the UAE's foreign policy.[59]

 Germany See Germany–United Arab Emirates relations

German exports amount to 5.84 billion Euros.[60] German companies significantly contribute to the UAE’s ongoing infrastructure projects and play a leading role in the country’s alternative energy developments.[61] Consequently, German Business Park, an area designed to house several of the already seven hundred present companies and their logistical needs, is in the midst of construction.[62]

 Greece See Greece–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Greece has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Athens.
  • Ireland has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Dublin.
 Kosovo See Kosovo–United Arab Emirates relations

The United Arab Emirates recognized Kosovo on 14 October 2008.[63][64] Kosovo plans to open an embassy in the UAE.[65] After the Serbian government launched a major offensive against the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo in 1998, the UAE called for international intervention and commenced a major program of humanitarian relief through its Red Crescent Society. In 1999, the UAE was among the first non-NATO states to voice support for NATO's bombing campaign.[66] During the UN administration period, the UAE maintained almost 1,500 peacekeeping and special operations troops in Kosovo.[67] The UAE was the only Arab state to offer to participate in the Kosovo Force and its commitment was the first operational deployment of UAE forces outside the Middle East region.[66] As of October 2008, these forces remained in Kosovo and between 1998 and 2008, the aid given to Kosovo by the UAE’s Red Crescent Authority alone cost Dh125 million, the biggest international humanitarian mission in the UAE's history.[68]

  • Poland has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Warsaw.
 Russia See Russia–United Arab Emirates relations
  • Russia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate-general in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Moscow.
 Serbia See Serbia–United Arab Emirates relations

Relations between Serbia and the United Arab Emirates have flourished in recent years. Serbia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE has an embassy in Belgrade. The UAE is now one of the top sources of FDI for Serbia.

  • Spain has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a commercial office in Dubai.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Madrid.
  • Ukraine has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Kiev.
 United Kingdom See United Arab Emirates–United Kingdom relations

Traditionally, links between the sheikhs of the lower Gulf and the United Kingdom were close as a result of a series of 19th-century maritime truces for the suppression of piracy. Since the British withdrew their military forces from the Persian Gulf in 1971, relations have remained friendly while the UAE has reorientated its foreign policy away from the former "colonial" relationship to one based on trade. Economically, the UAE is the UK’s largest export market for non-military goods in the Middle East.[69]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Australia See Australia–United Arab Emirates relations

The UAE and Australia have begun establishing closer relations, recently the UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri visited Australia along with the UAE delegation - discussion focused on the development of a strategic partnership, financial services, trade and investment.[70][71][72]

 New Zealand
  • New Zealand has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • United Arab Emirates has an embassy in Wellington.
 Solomon Islands 2010

Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 29, 2010.[73]


The UAE and Tuvalu established diplomatic relations on 31 March 2010.[74]

International disputes[edit]

  • Location and status of boundary with Saudi Arabia is not final, de facto boundary reflects 1974 agreement; no defined boundary with most of Oman, but Administrative Line in far north;
  • Claims three islands in the Persian Gulf that are part of Iran's territory: Lesser Tunb (called Tunb as Sughra in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Kuchak in Persian by Iran) and Greater Tunb (called Tunb al Kubra in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg in Persian by Iran);
  • Claims island in the Persian Gulf administered by Iran (called Abu Musa in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Abu Musa in Persian by Iran) - over which Iran has taken steps to exert unilateral control since 1992, including access restrictions and a military build-up on the island;

Illicit drugs[edit]

The UAE plays a growing role as a drug trafficking center due to its proximity to southwest Asian producing countries and the bustling free trade zone in Dubai. As a result, the UAE has one of the strongest anti-drug law enforcement, and the penalty of drug possession is severe. The UAE ministry of foreign affairs warns tourists of UAE drug laws before entering the country.[75]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]