United Arab Emirates–United Kingdom relations

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United Arab Emirates-United Kingdom relations
Map indicating locations of United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom
British embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

United Arab Emirates–United Kingdom relations are the relations between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UAE has an embassy in London while the UK maintains an embassy in Abu Dhabi and is unique in having another Embassy in Dubai, albeit with Her Britannic Majesty's Consul-General to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, as opposed to a separate British Ambassador. The UAE-UK relations have been described as a "special relationship".[1][2][3]


Before the country's formation in 1971, the emirates which currently constitute the UAE were once all part of the Trucial States and independent sheikhdoms allied with the United Kingdom, assigned as British protectorates by the General Maritime Treaty of 1820. The main purpose of this relationship was to ensure the passage to British India, firstly by excluding the pirates who then raided the country's coast on the Persian Gulf and subsequently by permitting aircraft to refuel at RAF Sharjah. Al Mahata Museum is today a living reminder of the BOAC and other flights that used to frequent the UAE's first airport.

Inward visits[edit]

In November 2010, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made an historic visit to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, her first since 1979, when she also visited Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. During the 1979 visit she opened a number of ports and buildings including the Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai Municipality and Port Rashid.

On her second visit in 2010, The Queen spent 2 days touring the Zayed Museum and visiting dignitaries of the Ruling Family, whilst her Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs (The Rt. Hon. William Hague) signed the Abu Dhabi Declaration 2010 with His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, reaffirming the 1971 friendship treaty between the two nations. His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh also signed a Memorandum of Understanding in his role as Chancellor of Cambridge University with His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Education.

Economic ties[edit]

The Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs noted upon signing Abu Dhabi 2010 in the presence of Her Majesty and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa that 100,000 British citizens lived in the Emirates and over a million visited each year for business and leisure.

Beside this each country share consistently high rates of mutual trade and investment.

Political ties[edit]

Both Great Britain and the Emirates have historic association in terms of co-operation in the areas of law enforcement, defence, training and military technology. This was reflected recently in the signing of an agreement to co-operate in the development of the Emirates' own nuclear energy plants in the future.


Well-known Britons include Edward Henderson, who wrote a book "Arabian Destiny" on his career in the region after World War Two developing oil concessions and learning about local politics both within and beyond his role in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Uniquely on his retirement he was invited to assist in establishing the national archives in Abu Dhabi by His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding President of the UAE from 1971 and Ruler of Abu Dhabi prior to then.

Other well-known authors with experience of the Emirates include Shirley Kay "Mother Without a Mask" and Jeremy Williams OBE "Don't They Know It's Friday?".[4]

An 18th century masterpiece painting, titled ‘Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy’, was gifted to the UAE by the United Kingdom as a token of goodwill and a symbol of enduring friendship between both countries on July 2019. The painting was painted bu Ary Scheffer in 1856 and is from the Lubin Family Private Collection. The painting was presented by the British Ambassador to the UAE Patrick Moody to Dr Hamed bin Mohamed Al Suwaidi, the hairman of Abu Dhabi Arts Society. Dr. Al Suwaidi suggested that the painting may be showcased at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.[5]


  1. ^ "The other special relationship: the UAE and the UK - The National".
  2. ^ "Sheikh Khalifa's trip will strengthen UK-UAE ties - The National".
  3. ^ http://www.sheikhmohammed.com/vgn-ext-templating/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=15e504ee11a11310VgnVCM1000004d64a8c0RCRD[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ (Wam). "UAE, UK renew friendship treaty - Khaleej Times".
  5. ^ "British masterpiece 'Mary Magdalene' gifted to UAE". Gulf News. 19 July 2019.

See also[edit]