Key Areas of Bilateral Cooperation

Located at a critical, strategic position bordering the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Hormuz, and less than 100 miles from Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an important and reliable ally of the United States.

In the UAE, the economy is thriving, moderate Islam is celebrated, women hold key cabinet posts, over 200 nationalities live and work peacefully together, and US engagement is welcome.

In fact, the bilateral relationship between the UAE and US has been steadily expanding since the founding of the UAE in 1971. The relationship provides a critical and effective first line of collective defense against shared threats. 

The UAE-US relationship has its foundation in a shared commitment to promote peace and security in the Gulf, counter extremism and deter threats to regional instability. The partnership has become stronger through the years with exponential growth in bilateral trade and economic cooperation and cultural partnerships. 

The UAE has made significant progress to advance women’s rights, promote religious tolerance, and embrace its growing role as an engaged and responsible player in world affairs.  

Places that have come back from the tough economic crisis the best and the quickest are the ones which have an operative model which creates cooperation across all sectors of society, races, religions, and ethnic groups, where people find a way to celebrate and are proud of their differences and they work together in shared responsibility. Dubai and the UAE show that a “model of shared prosperity is more important today than ever and an inspiration to many countries in the Middle East." - President Bill Clinton (April 10, 2013)

Economic and Trade Relations

Economic ties between the US and the UAE continue to flourish.

  • As the UAE economy has grown and diversified, the country is increasingly an important trading partner with the United States. The UAE is the United States’ single largest export market in the Middle East, with more than $22.11 billion in exports in 2014 – the sixth straight year the UAE has held this distinction.
  • Every state in the United States exports to the UAE, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  • The UAE pegs its currency, the dirham, to the dollar.
  • Through significant investments in the United States for over 40 years, the UAE has been a dependable and long-term contributor to US economy, providing liquidity to US capital markets, growth for US companies and job security for US workers
  • The US-UAE Business Council was launched in 2007 and is comprised of companies from both countries committed to expanding bilateral commercial opportunities.
  • Over 1000 US firms have an on-the-ground and expanding presence in the UAE.
  • The UAE and US have established a formal Economic Policy Dialogue, which is a government-to-government program that facilitates increased bilateral business and investment, and enhances the role of the private sector to promote economic growth in the UAE and US. 
  • The UAE hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Dubai in 2012, reaffirming UAE and US support for broad-based economic growth and opportunity in the Middle East region. 
  • The UAE's national airlines – Emirates and Etihad – now fly 91 direct flights between the UAE and American cities each week.  Many new flights have been introduced recently, including three new flights from Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA and Dallas, TX to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  • Boeing:  The UAE is the largest customer for Boeing commercial passenger aircraft.  Customers include Emirates Airlines, which is the world’s largest operator of 777 aircraft and the only airline to operate every Boeing model type. 
    • At the 2013 Dubai Airshow, UAE airlines made history with the largest ever commercial aircraft order buying more than 300 new Boeing aircraft with a value of over $120 billion.
  • Oil and Gas Sector:  The UAE is the only Gulf state to allow private-sector participation in its oil and gas sector.
    • ExxonMobil is a strategic partner of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
    • Bechtel has a number of projects in the gas sector.
    • Foster Wheeler is a key contractor in the UAE gas sector, recently awarded a contract for management of a major gas complex expansion.
    • Occidental Petroleum owns 24.5 percent of the Dolphin Energy project, an initiative to import Qatari natural gas to the UAE.

Recent Transactions

  • Emirati company Taqa Global has invested in a 205.5 megawatt Lakefield wind project in Jackson County, Minnesota. When operational, the field will produce enough sustainable energy to power over 60,000 homes.
  • In December 2010, The Mubadala Development Company made an additional investment of $500 million in The Carlyle Group general partnership. The Carlyle Group first sold Mubadala a 7.5% stake in its general partnership in September 2006.
  • The Mubadala Development Company and General Electric have multiple cooperative projects in alternative energy, regional finance, and aerospace, including an $8 billion joint venture in high technology.  Mubadala is one of the top GE shareholders. 
  • Westinghouse is taking part in a South Korean-led consortium that has won a $20-billion contract to build four nuclear reactors for commercial energy generation in the UAE.
  • The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) acquired an 11 percent share in the Hyatt Hotels Group in December 2009.
  • GLOBALFOUNDRIES, a joint venture between AMD and Advanced Technology Investment Company of Abu Dhabi, has opened a $4.2 billion manufacturing facility in Saratoga County, New York.

Security Relations

The UAE and US security partnership continues to deepen.

As transitions continue in the Middle East, the strategic threats remain as serious as ever: nuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism and extremism, unwelcome aggression against other nations, and risks to vital sea lanes. To face these common threats and protect its own unique regional model of tolerance and free markets, the UAE has taken on a leadership role in regional security, while strengthening defense cooperation with the US.

  • A formal Defense Cooperation Agreement has been in place since 1994 between the UAE and US
  • UAE ports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are crucial to US naval operations, providing the only deep harbors in the Arabian Gulf accessible to US aircraft carriers. In fact, more US naval vessels visit UAE ports than any others outside of the US.
  • More than 2,000 US military personnel are based in the UAE, primarily at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi.
  • The UAE Air Force operates 80 F-16 Block 60 aircraft.  Manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Texas, the Block 60 is the most advanced F-16 ever developed and fully interoperable with US systems.
  • The UAE is working with the US to strengthen regional missile defense capabilities, deploying the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system, and became the first country to acquire the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD).
  • The UAE contributes forces or assistance to US and coalition military actions.  In fact, the UAE is only one of three countries and the only Arab nation to participate with the US in six coalition actions over the last 20 years including a ten year special forces deployment with NATO in Afghanistan and most recently contributing combat aviation assets to the NATO-led mission in Libya.
  • UAE and US forces participate regularly in joint training exercises, in order to improve coordination and interoperability

The UAE’s contributions to the fight against terrorism include:

  • Significant intelligence cooperation with various US government agencies.
  • Joint task forces on money laundering, terrorist financing, and nuclear proliferation.
  • Enforcing export control laws to prevent the transshipment of sensitive goods and technologies.
  • The UAE was the first Middle Eastern country to join the US Container Security Initiative, allowing US customs officers inspect US-bound cargos at UAE ports.
  • The UAE is a signatory to the Proliferation Security Initiative.
  • The UAE fully supports and enforces UN sanctions to contain Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities.
  • Hedayah, the Center for Countering Violent Extremism, is a multinational initiative based in the UAE to counter violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestations through training, dialogue, collaboration, and research.
  • The Abu Dhabi based Sawab Center, is the first-ever multinational online messaging and engagement program to counter extremist propaganda and terrorist messaging in the online space. Co-founded by the UAE and the US, the Sawab Center will use direct online engagement to counter terrorist propaganda rapidly and effectively.  

The UAE currently has a number of military equipment programs with the United States, including:

  • Patriot PAC-3 (Raytheon and Lockheed Martin)
  • HAWK Air Defense Missile System (Raytheon)
  • AH-64 APACHE Helicopter Longbow (Boeing) 
  • UAE Air Force Command and Control System (Northrop Grumman)
  • C-130 Cargo Aircraft (Lockheed Martin)
  • C-17 Aircraft (Boeing)
  • F-16 E/F Advanced Fighter Aircraft (Lockheed Martin)
  • Multiple weapon systems associated with F-16 E/F (Northrop Grumman, Raytheon)
  • UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters (Sikorsky Aircraft)
  • High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Lockheed Martin)
  • Maverick air-to-surface missiles (Raytheon)
  • Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system, known as THAAD
  • In the pipeline: AVENGER, SLAMRAAM  

Working for Peace in the Region

The UAE actively promotes a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • The UAE supports two key United Nations agencies working in the West Bank and Gaza: the UN Development Programme, (UNDP) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). 
  • The UAE Red Crescent and other UAE charitable organizations have contributed over Dh2 billion (US$544 million) to humanitarian projects in Palestine and in Syria for Palestinian refugees, including the construction of a girl's school at a refugee camp near Damascus in association with the UNRWA. 
  • The Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation has built several schools, hospitals and medical centers in the Palestinian West Bank. 

In Pakistan, the UAE is strongly committed to stability and long-term development and has provided aid amounting to US $800 million to date. International participation is central to ensuring the stability of Pakistan, and in 2008, the UAE has undertaken the initiative to participate in the group of “Friends of Democratic Pakistan.”

Since 2003, the UAE has remained committed to making significant humanitarian contribution in Afghanistan. These investments have added in the construction of 11 schools, 6 medical clinics, a major hospital, a public library, and numerous mosques among other projects.

  • The UAE Government dedicated $30 million to international reconstruction efforts. 
  • The UAE Red Crescent has invested $19 million in local projects.
  • The people of the UAE have made $22 million in private contributions.   

Social and Cultural Ties with the United States

The UAE is an innovative social investor, seeking ways to expand opportunities for UAE citizens and help address regional and global challenges.

  • Women have full rights in the UAE Constitution, are well-educated and protected in the workplace. Eight cabinet ministers are women—including Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, who was on Forbes magazine’s 2007 list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. The UAE has four women fighter pilots. Nearly one-quarter of the Federal National Council (FNC), the UAE's advisory parliament, consists of women. In November 2015, Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi became president of the FNC, making her the first woman in the region to lead a national assembly. She previously served as the FNC’s deputy speaker. There are also three women ambassadors, to Spain, Sweden and Montenegro. In September of 2013 Lana Nusseibeh presented her credentials to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ambassador Nusseibeh is the first female permanent representative to the UN and the fifth woman in the country to serve as an ambassador.
  • Partnerships encourage shared experiences, while advancing local capacity. 
    • New York University, Boston University and Rochester Institute of Technology have announced or launched programs or campuses in the UAE.
    • Faculty from Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health advises the UAE on public health and is establishing a doctoral program in the country.
    • The Cleveland Clinic, over a 15-year period, will establish, develop and operate a world-class specialty hospital and clinic, called Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
    • The Johns Hopkins Medical School manages health care systems in Abu Dhabi.
    • Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has a partnership with the UAE government for breast cancer education.
    • MIT is helping create the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the region’s first graduate level, research-driven scientific institution.

Americans in the UAE

  • Approximately 50,000 Americans reside in the UAE.
  • There are over 1000 US firms operating in the UAE.

UAE Global Humanitarian Initiatives

Consistent with its traditions, the UAE is a reliable friend.

Since its founding, the UAE has become one of the world’s largest per capita providers of foreign assistance. In that spirit, the UAE has provided support to communities in the US that are recovering from disasters or have other needs.

  • In order to help Joplin, Missouri rebuild after a severe tornado devastated the town in 2011, the UAE provided significant grants to support the public school system and construction of a new pediatric healthcare wing at Joplin Mercy Hospital. The UAE Embassy in Washington DC also sent a team of volunteers to help rebuild homes after the tornado. 
  • In partnership with local schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, Major League Soccer teams and other organizations throughout the US, the UAE has provided funding to build all-weather soccer fields and free coaching for kids in underserved communities. There are currently nine fields in cities around the US.
  • In 2009, the UAE provided a $150 million gift to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC.  The gift created the new Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.  The UAE has also provided gifts to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and the MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston, Texas.
  • The UAE provided $100 million to the United States in the days following Hurricane Katrina.​

The UAE’s sizeable foreign aid activities outside the US include:

  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee ranked the UAE as the world's largest donor of official development aid during 2014, relative to its national income, for the second consecutive year.
  • Dubai Cares, which has reached more than 5 million children in 24 countries with projects that improve access to primary education for children in developing nations.
  • Funding for Tsunami Relief ($100 million); Pakistani Earthquake Relief ($100 million).
  • Following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti the UAE government and UAE foundations rapidly mobilized to deliver over 700 tons in food and shelter supplies to the affected region.
  • Throughout the Libya conflict, the UAE offered roughly US $13 million in aid. UAE-sponsored projects have contributed 5,000 tons of aid to refugees. 
  • The UAE also has provided significant funding and assistance to Iraq, including medical treatment for Iraqi children, training for Iraqi police, reconstruction of hospital in Iraq and education for Iraqi students in the UAE on scholarship.
  • The UAE pledged $4 billion in aid and investment to Egypt on the sidelines of the Egypt Economic Development Conference in March 2015. With UAE help, four bridges have been built, 41 railway level crossings have come up, 78 health care units in 23 governorates to serve 780,000 citizens have been established, and several more initiatives will be implemented over the course of the upcoming months and years. 

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