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Ernst Peter Fischer, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

How important is the UAE as a trading partner for Germany?

The UAE is Germany’s most important trading partner in the Gulf region. Germany is a manufacturing nation and an export-driven economy. Our industry is world-famous for mechanical engineering and its cars. These products have found their way to customers in the UAE. However, these are just two of many areas in which the German industry excels. Due to their outstanding reputation for innovation and quality, German products in the electronics, pharmaceutical and optical products sector are highly appreciated in the UAE.

Promising areas are digitalisation of the industry, energy efficiency, medical technology, sustainably prepared food. We are also delighted to see the growth in UAE exports to Germany. German companies are among the first sourcing CelestiAL solar aluminum from the UAE - aluminum produced with solar power.

In 2020, the bilateral volume of trade was 7.51 billion euros. Have travel and other restrictions during the pandemic affected German businesses in the UAE, and subsequently the trade volume?

Yes, in 2020 trade volume decreased. Like in many other countries, the pandemic had a negative effect on business. However, capital goods and automotive industry products, which traditionally constitute German exports to the UAE, showed more resilience. This is certainly an evidence for UAE government’s swift reaction to address the challenges brought by the Covid‑19 pandemic, nurturing a speedy economic recovery.

A ‘Declaration of Intent’ of joint cooperation was signed by both countries in 2017. Has this led to a strengthening of cooperation in the energy sector?

Yes, that is definitely the case. In 2017, the UAE and Germany entered into a bilateral energy partnership focusing e.g. on renewables, energy efficiency and hydrogen. Last year, we launched a Bilateral Hydrogen Task force, which started its work in March. Our cooperation is very active and based on mutual trust. The key to success lies in the fact that our energy cooperation work involves both high-level intergovernmental dialogue and – together with the private sector – practical and goal-oriented project work. The partnership has resulted in multiple agreements, MoUs, workshops and joint study agreements with different counterparts in Germany and the UAE.

Apart from the traditional sectors such as aircraft, automobiles, machinery, electrical goods and chemical products, what other sectors do you see German businesses making their mark in the near future in the UAE?

The UAE has embarked on a transition journey from an oil-dependent economy to a knowledge-based economy. The environment is very dynamic. Our economic relations have great potential to expand even further. It is our common interest to go beyond a traditional trading relation and e.g. develop new products or services together.

To highlight this potential, we founded the “Emirati-German Taskforce on 4IR”, which resulted in many concrete project ideas and the founding of a German-Emirati Institute for Technology at RWTH Aachen.

In 2022, Germany and the UAE are celebrating the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties. Is there anything special planned to mark the occasion?

Yes, we will have a whole range of events like a reception, articles and social media publications. I don’t want to reveal everything at this point. You will have to stay tuned…

How strong are cultural ties between Germany and the UAE?

For Germany‘s foreign cultural and educational policy, the UAE is a focus country. Over the past 10 years, the UAE has successfully developed into an international art center with major cultural projects. Germany was this year‘s guest of honour at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in May. For over 15 years, there has been a regional office of Germany’s Goethe Institute in Abu Dhabi with a language-learning center for German in Dubai. In the UAE, there are three German international schools with a total of almost 1,500 students and a growing number of Emirati students.

What message to you have for the UAE citizens and residents on the 50th anniversary?

The term “anniversary of diplomatic relations” sounds a bit abstract. But this anniversary is not only about the relations between states, governments or civil servants in ministries. It is also about the relations between people. This is your anniversary! Enjoy it and let’s shape the next 50 years together!