Erdogan to visit UAE to bolster political, economic ties

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to visit the United Arab Emirates for the first time in nearly a decade, as ties improve between the two countries.

Speaking at a news conference at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Monday, the president said the visit will aim to shape the next 50 years of “friendship and brotherhood with the UAE”.

“We do not consider the security and stability of all brotherly countries in the Gulf region separate from our own,” Erdogan said.

With trading volumes approaching $8bn, the UAE is among Turkey’s leading trading partners, he said, noting that “The UAE is the 10th-largest market of the overseas contracting sector in Turkey.”

Erdogan’s visit – the first since 2013 – “opens a new, positive page in bilateral relations”, Anwar Gargash, adviser to the UAE president, said in a tweet.

Abdul Khaleq Abdallah, a political science professor in the UAE, tweeted on Sunday that the two countries should aim to bolster a “strategic political partnership”.

For years, relations have been strained between Turkey and the energy-rich UAE as both countries backed opposing sides in regional conflicts and sparred on other issues such as gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

But tensions eased after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed traveled to Ankara in November on the first high-level visit since 2012.

Following that visit, the UAE announced a $10bn fund for investments in Turkey, where the economy has been reeling and inflation surged to a near 20-year high in January.

The two countries also signed 10 security, economic and technological agreements, according to the official UAE news agency WAM.

‘Stability and security’

Erdogan’s visit comes as the UAE faces a growing threat from Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have in recent weeks launched a series of drone and missile attacks on the Gulf country and prompted increased defense cooperation with the United States and France.

Ties between Turkey and the UAE were particularly tense after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut all links with Qatar – a close ally of Ankara – in 2017. Relations were restored in January 2021.

Erdogan has since last year sought to improve Turkey’s ties with regional rivals in the face of harsh isolation that has caused foreign investment to dry up – particularly from the West.

In an op-ed published in the Emirati English-language daily Khaleej Times this weekend, he said Turkey wanted to advance cooperation with the UAE on several fronts, including “climate change, water, and food security”.

“This cooperation will have positive reflections not only in bilateral relations but also at the regional level,” he wrote.

Erdogan also said he believes the two countries are able to contribute to regional peace, stability, and prosperity.

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