Welcome to 2015 Discover America Week in the UAE. As the US Ambassador, I am committed to strengthening the US-UAE partnership and to sharing the best of America with the people of the UAE.Discover America is a week-long celebration of American culture that delivers the finest in American dining, entertainment, education, retail, business practices and consumer brand experience.

At venues all across the country, you will find events that capture your imagination and appeal to all five senses. From fashion and food exhibitions to education fairs and speaker series to retail promotions — Discover America Week will introduce you to the incredible depth and variety of American cultural experiences that reflect at least a small part of what the US has to offer.

The 2015 Discover America Week provides our friends of all ages the chance to enjoy a slice of American life right here in the UAE — with promotions and activities at 26 malls and other locations all across the UAE, there is something for everyone.

This is a fun and innovative way to bring our two peoples closer together, and at the same time, demonstrate the strong partnership that America enjoys with the UAE. It is this deep bond that drives the commercial relationship between our two nations.

Emiratis and Americans share much in common: a strong commitment to education, to family, to health and to heritage. We have faced challenges together in recent years that have brought our two nations closer together and helped us grow in appreciation and respect for each other. The US has a unique and enduring relationship with the UAE that spans the whole spectrum of cooperation, and I am pleased to see the US Embassy and US businesses playing an important role in nurturing this relationship through this initiative.

Strengthening bilateral relations

The US has substantial trade and commercial interests in the UAE, which is our largest export market in the region and seventeenth largest in the entire world. Trade volumes between the US and the UAE expanded by more than 81 per cent from $13.7 billion (Dh50.3 billion) in 2009 to $24.8 billion in 2014. Over the same period, US goods exports have grown by 106 per cent. It is important to note that the trade growth is working both ways; last year alone UAE exports to the US grew by more than 20 per cent. With our diverse economy and opportunities, the US continues to be the UAE’s preferred destination for foreign direct investment. US companies continue to expand here in the UAE as well, with more than 1,000 US companies operating in the UAE — from small, independent business to large US-based multinationals. One of my priorities as the US Ambassador to the UAE is to strengthen our bilateral relations, increasing cooperation across the full range of sectors and through people-to-people exchanges. The US Mission, working closely with the US private sector, stands ready to support commercial partnerships that benefit our two economies, our citizens, and our future. The strong business connections between the US and the UAE are one of the many important links that help make the US-UAE relationship such a dynamic and successful partnership.

This week you can Discover America without leaving the UAE. I hope you will join me at one of the exciting Discover America events taking place around the country and take this opportunity to learn more about our amazing US-UAE partnership. So let me say, at least for October 22 to October 31, Welcome to America... in the UAE.

Barbara A. Leaf is US Ambassador to the UAE.