The recent visit to Russia by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has many investment and economic dimensions. According to recent reports, the UAE will invest $5 billion (Dh18.39 billion) in Russia’s infrastructure, while annual trade between the two countries has not surpassed the $1.5 billion mark.
The UAE’s investment added more significance to the visit, in addition to certain political dimensions. However, most analyses in local papers focused only on the investment and economic aspects.
This was Shaikh Mohammad’s second visit to Moscow this year. Economic and trade relations between the UAE and Russia existed long before the visit, albeit not to the extent and volume that we have recently witnessed. It was possible to further develop these relations and increase investments by including delegations from public and private sectors in the visit.
The question that presents itself here is: Since when did Emirati-Russian trade relations necessitate a meeting between two top officials from two of the world’s prominent countries? As things stand, the current assumption is that this visit also represents a dimension different from the one touched upon by analysts and local papers. This brings us to another question: Is the visit related to current regional and international security and political events? The answer is yes. However, no details were given about such discussions.
The world today is changing and such an analysis is neither new nor a secret. The only new aspect is that a former superpower is beginning to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, following a long period spent in renovating and redeveloping its capabilities that were destroyed by the chaos that ensued following the perestroika reforms that sought to destroy the standing of a world power.
During that time of renovation and redevelopment, which resulted in Moscow being able to stand on its own two feet, the world lost its balance through wars waged by the US, which took advantage of the chaos and unease in the international scene. Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded, and later, regimes in countries that were close to the Soviet Union, such as Libya and Syria, were undermined. At present, Syria is in a war that shows no sign of ending any time soon.
During this unprecedented period, in which the US has been the dominant power in the world, levels of knowledge in school curriculums were on the rise and education began to fluctuate, according to unscientific visions. In the 1980s and 1990s, fax, cellular phones and emails began to emerge as new tools for globalisation, which were frequently theorised in discussions involving the market economy. Every nation has to be a part of this free market economy or they will remain regressive or efforts will be exerted to make them seem as such.
However, it is now clear that whoever is dominant in the world is not necessarily capable of solving all of the world’s problems. The US ego, on the other hand, hindered its ability to comprehend that its power had waned. This made it difficult for the country to overcome this challenge that took its toll on its military capabilities and economy. The US today suffers from a trade deficit and its debts are valued at $16 trillion, which is equivalent to the country’s gross domestic product.
Abu Dhabi has taken notice of these critical and significant changes and is making the most of a historic moment that may never come again.
It is worth noting that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security once originated in Damascus. In the face of Iranian threats, Syria was a trusted ally of GCC nations — either playing the role of the GCC messenger to Iran or applying pressure on Iran to refrain from hostility towards the Gulf nations. Everybody is aware of the outcome of the current events in Syria. The question that remains is for how long will the current situation continue?
The stand that Russia and China have taken on the Syrian situation in the United Nations Security Council, and against the US, is a strong sign and message to GCC countries and the world. This stand has shown that there is no longer a single superpower and their message to the world is that they now need to be respected because they share that position of power.
So far as troubled Egypt is concerned, the GCC countries, particularly the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have pledged to help regain its strength. If Egypt never recovers, the Arab world will never rise again. Egypt is a key player in the region and it needs to reprise that role in the entire region. Egypt must be empowered to play the role it played in the 1960s and ‘70s — in a much more advanced way. The US is now reluctant to give the annual financial and military aid to Egypt. Therefore, Egypt must open up to the East to re-establish its relations which were once strong. Egypt must find alternatives when necessary. These issues topped the agenda of the meeting held between Shaikh Mohammad and Putin in Moscow.
Mohammad Hassan Al Harbi is a writer and journalist.