Abu Dhabi: The 14th session of the UAE-France Strategic Dialogue, co-chaired by Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi, and Francois Delattre, Secretary-General of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, was held in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
The meeting reflected the exceptional partnership between both countries and followed the directives set out by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, in recent engagements. The French side offered its heartfelt condolences to the Emirati people and government on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose commitment to bilateral relations strengthened the French-Emirati strategic partnership, and congratulated His Highness Sheikh Mohamed on his election as President of the UAE.
UAE attendees at the Strategic Dialogue included Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of State; Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State; Sara Awad Issa Musallam, Minister of State for Early Education; and Dr Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Adviser to the UAE President. The delegations also included ambassadors of both countries, as well as chairpersons, under-secretaries and directors general from key entities representing priority sectors in both countries.
As part of the ambitious ten-year bilateral roadmap of the UAE-France strategic partnership (2020-2030) adopted in June 2020, the high-level meeting involved discussions on enhancing key sectors of bilateral cooperation, such as economy, trade and investment, oil and gas, decarbonised hydrogen, nuclear and renewable energy, climate change, education, culture, health, artificial intelligence, food security, fintech, intellectual property rights, anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, space, and cybersecurity.
The French side reaffirmed its commitment to the security partnership with the UAE under the 2009 bilateral defence agreement, thereby supporting regional stability. In this context, the UAE side thanked France for its expression of solidarity and support, as well as for its strong condemnation of the January terrorist attacks on civil facilities in the UAE.
Reflecting on the major achievements of the past decade, the two sides reaffirmed their enduring commitment to the iconic projects of Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi while sharing an ambition to further bolster bilateral relations by identifying new goals and joint initiatives.
Both parties discussed ways to strengthen investment and trade in sectors of mutual priority as part of major economic agreements signed during President Macron’s visit to the UAE in December 2021. Both parties addressed innovation and industry and discussed plans to convene the first meeting of the UAE-France Business Council, announced during Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit to France in September 2021.
Role of nuclear energy
Representatives from the UAE and France discussed additional areas of cooperation in climate change mitigation, especially in the lead-up to COP28 to be held in Abu Dhabi in 2023. The two sides also noted the significance of the upcoming One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund event to be hosted by the UAE in October 2022. The two sides also agreed to further enhance existing bilateral relations on climate change in support of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. Furthermore, the two parties agreed on holding the UAE-France Energy Days on November 7-8, 2022. The two parties reaffirmed their commitment on the role of nuclear energy, as a way of decarbonisation, through cooperation on training, research and development, and between the French and Emirati nuclear supply chain.
Focus on education
Both countries also highlighted the importance of education in the bilateral partnership. Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, INSEAD, Paris 2, and 42 Abu Dhabi will be joined by EM Normandie and ESCP as French institutions with campuses or branches in the UAE. Representatives also recalled the key role played by the seven French-accredited schools in the UAE, as well as the bilateral agreement on the teaching of the French language in Emirati public schools to promote French language and culture. The sides also noted the shared priority of advancing Arabic language through a bilateral agreement with Institut du Monde Arabe that promotes the “Certificat International de Maîtrise en Arabe” (International Certificate for Proficiency in Arabic), via the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre to assess proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic in the UAE, considered an essential step in structuring and assessing the quality of Arabic language teaching.
Both parties addressed key priority sectors of cooperation, such as cultural and creative industries, museums, hospitality management, and agro-tech. The co-chairs praised joint efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed to enhance their partnership in the health sector through ambitious scientific and medical cooperation. The parties also discussed ways to expand bilateral space cooperation.
Need to end the war in Ukraine
Moreover, the two parties discussed the issue of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism and agreed to enhance tangible, strategic cooperation in this field. In addition, the Strategic Dialogue included a productive discussion on strategic issues of regional and international significance. They underlined the urgent need to put an end to the war in Ukraine, which has caused massive humanitarian suffering.
The parties also discussed ways to mitigate the impact of this war on energy and food security, including the French initiative FARM, and the disruption of value chains. They also examined a range of regional issues in Africa and the Middle East and expressed their continued commitment to peace, stability, and security in the region. They also praised cooperation between the two countries in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) since the election of the UAE as a non-permanent member of UNSC.
Upon conclusion of the Strategic Dialogue, UAE and French officials underscored the importance of continuous and constructive engagement and their shared commitment to further deepening relations between the two countries across all fields.