Key Areas of Bilateral Cooperation
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the economy is thriving, moderate Islam is celebrated, over 200 nationalities live and work peacefully together, women hold key cabinet posts, and US engagement is welcome. In many ways, the bilateral relationship between the UAE and US has never been stronger since the UAE was founded in 1971.
This close alliance is built on three pillars – security, prosperity, and a common outlook.
The US-UAE relationship has its foundation in a shared commitment to promote peace and security in the Arabian Gulf, counter extremism, and deter threats to regional stability. The men and women of our armed forces train together and are in constant coordination, resulting in highly effective alignment at the tactical and operational level. Beyond the battlefield, the UAE and US are partnering to block the flow of funds and foreign fighters to terrorist groups and counter extremist ideologies.
During recent years, there has been exponential growth in bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Total bilateral trade between the UAE and US grew from approximately $5.22 billion in 2004 to $17.83 billion in 2020. The UAE is one of the largest Foreign Military Sales customers of the US, purchasing more than $20 billion in US defense hardware and services over the past decade, including one of the world’s largest non-US F-16 fleets. Combined, UAE airlines are the largest customers of Boeing aircraft. Moreover, UAE investments in the US support hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and provide liquidity to capital markets that spurs innovation and advancements across several sectors.
The UAE and US share a future-oriented outlook of tolerance, gender equality, diversity, educational advancement, free markets, and the promotion of arts and culture. Tens of thousands of Americans work in and visit the UAE every year. Thousands of young Emiratis are studying in US universities. And hundreds of health care, cultural, science, and educational partnerships and exchanges link the people of both countries.
US-UAE Bilateral Highlights
- Only Arab nation to participate with the US in six military coalition actions over the last 25 years, including the current fight against ISIS.
- US Naval vessels visit UAE ports more than any other foreign ports, and 4,000+ US personnel are hosted at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi.
- Largest US export market in the Middle East for twelve consecutive years, with nearly $14.75 billion in exports to the UAE in 2020. The US had a $11.68 billion trade surplus with the UAE in 2020, the US’ fourth largest globally.
- UAE investments into the US help support hundreds of thousands of good paying American jobs.
- The UAE is the largest donor of foreign aid as a percent of gross national income, and has provided support to communities in the US that are recovering from disasters or have other needs.
Click the image below to see an infographic that provides an overview of the bilateral UAE-US relationship.
The UAE and the United States share a common resolve to preserve security and counter aggression in the Arabian Gulf and throughout the Middle East. The two countries work closely together to meet collective security challenges, such as fighting ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremists; confronting Iranian aggression; increasing regional stability; and protecting critical shipping lanes.
Military Assistance and Cooperation
The UAE is only one of three countries and the only Arab nation to participate with the US in six military coalition actions over the last 30 years. The UAE has deployed forces and/or provided assistance in:
- 1990 Gulf War: The UAE was one of the first countries to support the United States at the advent of the war.
- Somalia: In 1992 the UAE joined other countries, led by the US Central Command, to secure the environment and provide humanitarian relief. The UAE continues to fight piracy and help to stabilize Somalia.
- Bosnia-Kosovo: The UAE was among the first non-NATO states to express support for NATO’s air operations. The UAE participated in peacekeeping operations, and provided humanitarian assistance during and after the conflict.
- Afghanistan: UAE special forces fought alongside US soldiers for more than 12 years.
- Libya: The UAE has coordinated with US and international partner forces on countering extremists and has provided humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people.
- Fight Against ISIS: Committed to combating Islamic extremism in all of its forms, the UAE is participating in a multinational mission with the US and other partners to confront ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Coalition’s combined efforts have diminished ISIS’ military capability, territorial control, leadership, financial resources and online influence. In addition, since 2011, the UAE has provided more than $1.11 billion aid to Syrian refugees.
UAE Counterterrorism Operations in Yemen
- As part of its efforts to counter extremism and ensure stability throughout the region, the UAE is working to counter Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and prevent extremist control of territory in Yemen.
- In Spring 2016, the UAE led a Coalition operation to drive Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula out of the Yemeni port city of Mukalla, where AQAP was making $2 million a day through taxes, smuggling, and extortion. The operation put AQAP on the run and killed more than 450 AQAP fighters.
- The UAE military has undertaken operations and trained Yemeni forces to counter ISIS activity in Yemen and prevent the group from further extending its reach.
- In addition to military operations, the UAE and the Coalition have given humanitarian aid to provide for the basic needs of the Yemeni people and reestablish critical infrastructure. To date, the UAE has provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including a commitment of $100 million to UN-led efforts in the country.
In support of the two countries’ cooperation on regional security, the UAE and US militaries are aligned at the tactical level, and regularly collaborate on joint-training missions.
- The UAE provides critical logistics support for US Navy fleet operations and supports US Air Force operations by assisting with logistics at facilities in the UAE.
- The UAE is home to the Joint Air Warfare Center and hosts joint training exercises with US forces.
- Each spring, the UAE stages the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course (ATLC), a multinational training exercise for air-to-air combat training.
- UAE pilots participate annually in the Red/Green Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The UAE Air Force’s first ever participation in Red Flag was captured in a documentary called Desert Falcons, which tracked a squadron of Emirati F-16 pilots and support crew as they prepared for the challenging exercise.
- The UAE also participates in the Nimble Titan global exercises, an unclassified experiment to examine potential scenarios involving ballistic missile threats.
- The Center for Integrated Air and Missile Defense provides trainings that enhance capabilities and improve cooperation between UAE and US pilots.
In addition, the UAE is the world’s second largest purchaser of US arms and defense equipment. Military equipment sales support American jobs and contribute to US national security interests by strengthening an important alliance.
- The UAE has received Patriot Systems from the US, and is receiving THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) Systems. Corresponding trainings are underway to prepare UAE personnel for using these systems.
- The UAE Air Force is the first export customer for the General Atomics Predator XP surveillance and reconnaissance drone.
- In February 2015, Raytheon announced that it had agreed to provide the UAE with Talon laser-guided rockets for its armored vehicles.
- US-based IOMAX is providing the UAE with 24 Archangel Border Patrol Aircraft; deliveries began in June 2015 and the planes are being delivered steadily on a monthly basis until the order is filled. The aircraft offer strike, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
- In December 2015, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $28.6 million contract to provide 12 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to the UAE. And in May 2015, Lockheed received a $174 million foreign military sales contract for Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) for both the US Army and the UAE.
- In July 2016, the US Department of State approved a possible $785 million foreign military sale to the UAE for precision-guided munitions, sustainment, and support to assist in ongoing operations in the fight against ISIS.
Countering Violent Extremism
Beyond the battlefield, the UAE and US are committed partners in stopping terrorist activities and countering extremist ideologies. Working together, the two countries have taken forceful action to block the flow of funds and foreign fighters. Under the UAE government’s cybercrime law, the UAE criminalizes the use of the internet by terrorist groups to “promote their ideologies and finance their activities.”
The UAE has taken the lead in setting up the Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi. Hedayah was created in response to the growing desire from Global Counter-Terrorism Forum members and the wider international community for the establishment of an independent, multilateral center devoted to training, dialogue, collaboration, and research. It is a center for excellence in countering violent extremism that equips communities and governments with the tools to counter violent extremism and terrorist recruitment. It recently announced the establishment of a Washington, DC office to expand bilateral efforts.
Another initiative is the Sawab Center, established by the UAE and the US in July 2015. Since its launch in July 2015, the Sawab Center has contested Daesh’s online presence by responding directly to its propaganda through immediate reactive messaging as well as proactive campaigns and other content that exposes Daesh’s true nature, highlights the successes of the Global Coalition, amplifies regional voices of moderation, and offers an alternative, positive vision that underscores the true values and diversity of Islam.
Click the image below to view an infographic that provides information on the UAE's broad approach to CVE.
The UAE has one of the most open economies in the world. Its robust economic partnership with the United States reflects the UAE’s role as a regional leader in terms of economic reform, openness to international trade and investment, and political stability.
In 2012, the UAE and US partnered to form an Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD), which continues to serve as a platform to strengthen the economic, trade, and commercial relationships between the two countries.
Partners in a Globalized World
The volume of US exports and foreign direct investment into the UAE in recent years has grown dramatically and is likely to continue to grow in the future. This growth reflects the increasingly diversified UAE economy (70% of the UAE’s GDP now comes from non-oil activities), as well as the country's leading role as a modernizing influence in the Arab world.
- The UAE is the United States’ single largest export market in the Middle East, with nearly $14.75 billion in exports in 2020 – the twelfth straight year the UAE has held this distinction.
- The UAE has trade relations with every state in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
- The UAE pegs its currency, the dirham, to the dollar.
- More than 1,500 US firms have a presence in UAE, from Bechtel and ExxonMobil to Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery.
- The UAE's national airlines – Emirates and Etihad – fly more than 200 nonstop flights each week between the UAE and American cities. These routes provide enhanced access for US businesses to new and expanding markets throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
High Value Trade and Investment
Through significant investments in the United States for over 30 years, the UAE has been a dependable and long-term contributor to the US economy, providing liquidity to US capital markets while supporting growth for US companies, and job security for US workers. The commercial relationship between the UAE and the United States is characterized by a set of high-value trade and investment activities.
- In late 2013, the UAE airlines (Emirates, Etihad, and flyDubai) announced the largest commercial aircraft order in history. UAE airlines combined are buying 300+ new Boeing aircraft valued at more than $120 billion, including General Electric engines and maintenance services.
- California-based AMD and Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) of Abu Dhabi engaged in a joint-venture to open GlobalFoundries, a US-headquartered semiconductor manufacturing company, in 2009. GlobalFoundries operates a $4.2 billion semiconductor fabrication plant in Upstate New York, where it employs nearly 3,000 people.
- Westinghouse is participating in a South Korean-led consortium that is building four nuclear reactors for commercial energy generation in the UAE, the first of which is scheduled to go online in 2019.
- In 2014, UAE-based Gulftainer signed a 35-year agreement to operate a container and cargo terminal at Port Canaveral on Florida's east coast, representing an investment of up to $100 million in equipment and jobs.
- Boeing and Mubadala Development Company, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, announced a 10-year direct contract for Strata Manufacturing, Mubadala Aerospace’s advanced composite aerostructures facility, to produce commercial composite aerostructures for the 777 and 787 Dreamliner. In addition, the companies announced a strategic agreement that positions Strata to be a future supplier of the vertical fin for the Dreamliner, a major composite assembly for Boeing’s most advanced airplane program.
UAE as Global Energy Supplier
- US companies are heavily involved as partners and suppliers to UAE energy companies.
- Abu Dhabi was the only OPEC member not to nationalize the holdings of foreign investors in the mid-1970s. Today international oil companies from the United States, Japan, France, Britain, and other countries continue to hold combined equity stakes of between 40 and 100% in Abu Dhabi’s vast oil concessions.
- In addition to partnering with US companies on the development of its oil resources, the UAE is also a consumer of US-produced energy. The UAE has imported liquefied natural gas from US producers.
- The UAE is making a $15 billion investment in clean energy technologies, through its Masdar initiative. The country has also committed to increase renewable energy production to 27% of its national energy mix by 2021.
- Reflecting the UAE’s renewable energy leadership, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.
- The UAE will continue its long tradition of responsible energy stewardship as it diversifies its economy, expands hydrocarbon reserves, and contributes to the development of alternative energy sources.
UAE: A Hub for Innovation
- The UAE is the number one environment for innovation in the Arab World, according to the 2018 Global Innovation Index.
- The $540 million Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund finances projects and supports innovation-friendly reforms and infrastructure improvements.
- From aerospace to defense to high-tech, innovative UAE-US partnerships are helping drive growth and development in both countries.
- In July 2020, the UAE will become the first nation in the Arab world to send a spacecraft to Mars. This historic achievement is the result of innovative knowledge transfer partnerships between UAE scientists and several US educational institutions, including University of Colorado-Boulder, University of California-Berkeley and Arizona State University. Learn more.
- In October 2018, NASA and the UAE Space Agency signed an historic implementing arrangement that outlines cooperation across a range of areas related to space exploration and human spaceflight. This builds on a strategic cooperation agreement on aeronautics research that the two space agencies signed in 2016.
- Lockheed Martin’s Center For Innovation and Security Solutions in Abu Dhabi facilitates public-private partnerships and provides trainings for Emirati youth.
- Recognizing Dubai’s potential as a hub for innovation and a gateway to global markets, DC-based start-up incubator 1776 recently opened a campus in Dubai.
A Reliable Friend to the US
The UAE is the largest donor of foreign aid as a percent of gross national income. In that spirit, the UAE has provided support to communities in the US that are recovering from disasters or have other needs.
- The UAE is a leader in philanthropic efforts to eradicate polio. Since 2011, the UAE has worked in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote public health by supporting the distribution of vaccines. The UAE has pledged $120 million to support polio eradication efforts worldwide and is actively working to raise international awareness.
- 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 provided $100 million to the United States in the days following Hurricane Katrina.
- Since 2005, the UAE Embassy has sponsored the Healthy Kidney 10K race in NYC’s Central Park, which raises money and awareness for the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).
- In 2016, the UAE Embassy was the presenting sponsor of the Los Angeles Turkey Trot, which is held on Thanksgiving each year to benefit the Midnight Mission, an LA-based charity that supports people experiencing homelessness.
Improving Healthcare in the US and Around the World
- In April 2016, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, dedicated the new Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care. This wing is supported by a gift of $150 million by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, founded by Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. In addition to the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care – a 600,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building – the donation supports critical research.
- In 2015, Cleveland Clinic opened a facility in the UAE – Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) – bringing extraordinary medical treatment and innovation to the region. This innovative partnership between Cleveland Clinic and Mubadala has grown out of a shared vision to improve global public health and provide greater access for patients to world-class care.
- The UAE provided a gift to support the construction of the Sheikh Zayed Tower at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The facility, which opened in 2012, features advanced neurological and neurosurgical services, transplant surgery, trauma care, orthopedics, and general surgery, as well as labor and delivery.
- A $150 million grant from the United Arab Emirates in 2009 established the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center, spurring new research and groundbreaking developments that aim to improve the health of children in the US and UAE, and around the world. Physicians, scientists, and engineers at the Sheikh Zayed Institute are conducting important research and making advances in treatment for pediatric patients.
A Source of Stability and Tolerance
The UAE is one of the most diverse societies in the world
The UAE is testing a new vision for the region — an alternative, future-oriented ideology that promotes moderate Islam, empowers women, embraces diversity, encourages innovation, and welcomes global engagement. These values have been ingrained in the UAE's DNA since the country's founding in 1971. It explains why over 200 nationalities call the UAE home and why different religions have built 40 churches and three temples (with a fourth on the way) there.
In addition, some of the most recognizable US cultural and educational institutions, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, are partnering with the UAE on initiatives to enhance intercultural exchanges and prepare a new generation of leaders for the 21st century.
Women in the UAE are empowered and supported to realize their full ambitions
- Eight women serve in the UAE Cabinet—including Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, who was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
- Seven women hold seats within the Federal National Council (FNC), a consultative parliamentary body.
- 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 had made history in 2006 as the first elected female to the FNC and in 2011 was appointed deputy speaker of the FNC.
- 95% of girls and 80% of boys who complete their secondary education enroll in a higher education institution in the UAE or travel abroad to study.
- Significantly, Emirati women account for 71.6% of students in government tertiary-level institutions and for 50.1% of students in private higher education.
- The UAE has four women fighter pilots and has also trained over 30 women to work with the country’s special security forces. In September 2014 the UAE opened the region’s first military college for women, Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School.
- The 2016 UN Arab Human Development report gave the UAE a ‘very high human development’ rating across several indicators. It also shows that the UAE has one of the highest female-to-male university enrollment ratios in the world.
Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates
- The UAE brought a sample of its rich heritage and culture to the United States through the traveling art exhibit, “Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates.”
- The exhibit told the story of the UAE’s rich history, culture, and rapid development through 50 paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, and other works by 25 notable Emirati artists.
- The exhibit toured eight US cities, ranging from Los Angeles, to Dallas, to Lexington, Kentucky and was met with enthusiasm across the country.
- To learn more and watch a video about the exhibit, clear here.