Yousef Al Otaiba: A Message from the UAE Ambassador
His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba was appointed as UAE Ambassador to the US in July 2008 and promoted to Minister of State by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in November 2017. As the UAE’s top diplomat in the US, his position provides a platform to spread a powerful message of tolerance and inclusion, and focus on the common values that bond the UAE and the United States together.
Ambassador Al Otaiba’s diplomatic achievements earned him a spot on Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 list. In addition, he has been named Ambassador of the Year by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, and he has received the Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award and the Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Prize in Philanthropy.
Before his time in Washington, DC, Ambassador Al Otaiba was Director of International Affairs for the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s principal security, anti-terrorism and defense liaison to other governments.
Welcome to the UAE-USA Campaign
As the UAE Ambassador to the US, one of my priorities is to preserve this unique relationship and to highlight the work and progress being made on behalf of both countries to create a better future across the globe.
Home to one of the most open economies in the world, the UAE is a regional leader in international trade, investment and economic reform. In 2012, the UAE and US formed the Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD) in order to strengthen trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. The UAE has remained the US’ largest export market in the Middle East for over a decade, more than 1,500 US corporations have offices in the UAE and bilateral trade surpassed $24 billion in 2019. These economic exchanges have provided critical support for jobs and enterprises across the United States.
The UAE and the US have also joined forces to develop innovative solutions across seven key sectors including technology, transportation, renewable and clean energy, education, health, water and space. Our joint efforts have encouraged progressive thinking and established partnerships with several groundbreaking organizations including the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Children’s National Hospital, New York University, NASA and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Regional Stability and Advancing Peace
At the heart of UAE-US relations is a common interest to promote security and counter extremism. This shared priority stems from the UAE’s critical position in the Arabian Gulf. Protecting this strategic position inspired our Joint Air Warfare Center, where the UAE, US, and other allied forces regularly train together to fight against terrorism and other regional threats in the area. Additionally, the UAE is the only Arab nation to partner with the US in six military coalition actions across the Middle East and is actively working alongside the US to combat extremists including ISIS and Al Qaeda. As a result of increased military and defense cooperation, US naval vessels visit UAE ports more than any other foreign ports and over 4,000 US troops are hosted in the country.
The UAE is committed to working together with the United States to stabilize the Middle East and create a more peaceful world.
In June 2020, my op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth highlighted the potential shared benefits and opportunities that normalized relations between Israel and the UAE would provide. It also conveyed that Israeli plans for annexation would prevent any possibility for normalization. In August 2020, the Abraham Accords were announced. On September 15, 2020 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined President Trump and foreign ministers from the UAE and Bahrain at the White House to sign the agreement.
Progress on Peace and Inclusivity
The UAE has demonstrated its long-time commitment to protecting the world from global proliferation threats, supporting the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) since the mid-1990s. Throughout my tenure, I have diligently worked to carry on this legacy and helped guide the US-UAE 123 Agreement for Peaceful Civilian Nuclear Energy Cooperation in 2009, which provides a framework for peaceful nuclear energy commerce between the UAE and the US. The UAE is also a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is a partner nation on the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and has been recognized by international experts for its “gold standard” approach to nuclear projects.
In addition to setting the standard for nuclear energy cooperation, the UAE-US relationship is dedicated to building a more peaceful and inclusive world. In 2019, the UAE celebrated the “Year of Tolerance,” which inspired a number of multicultural events including Pope Francis’ historic visit to the UAE to promote acceptance, mutual respect and cultural understanding.
The UAE Embassy has also initiated a number of creative collaborations including the “Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates,” the first touring exhibition of Emirati art, organized in partnership with Meridian International Center. As a firm believer in the power of global engagement, I host distinguished leaders from around the world to discuss emerging global issues and shared interests on the Podbridge podcast presented by the UAE Embassy. I also served as a board member for the EastWest Institute where I collaborated with influential stakeholders to solve challenges affecting nations worldwide.
Building a Better Future
I have had the pleasure of supporting a number of philanthropic initiatives in healthcare, disaster-relief, and community development. Our charitable work has provided significant funding, support and recognition to those less fortunate and further strengthened UAE ties to the US.
In response to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, we worked urgently to provide humanitarian relief including food security, repatriation flights, and essential medical supplies.
In addition, the UAE has a long-time track record of aiding in the relief and recovery of US communities devastated by natural disasters, including those affected by the Joplin Tornado and Hurricane Sandy.
We have also worked with US partners to support important causes. In 2019, the UAE hosted the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Honoring the UAE’s long-time commitment to the people of determination, I joined the Special Olympics Board of Directors to continue expanding opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Meanwhile, here in the US, we support the annual UAE Healthy Kidney 10k in New York City and we have worked with partners around the world to build 11 soccer fields for underprivileged youth.