In a special Op-Ed published in Khaleej Times, the Dutch and Emirati Ambassadors review the partnership between their two respective countries.
We, the Ambassador of the UAE to the Kingdom of Netherlands and Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to the UAE, firmly believe that our countries can champion incredible achievements to the benefit of humankind.
As the UAE and Netherlands approach the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, we now have an opportunity to reflect on the world we would like to build for generations to come in this shared journey of development.
Our partnership has always been defined by the exchange of knowledge and experience. As the world has confronted unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE and Netherlands have put our partnership to great use far beyond our borders.
The UAE and Netherlands have long collaborated in the food security sector, recognising that the mere conservation of existing resources is insufficient in response to the growing threat of climate change. In order to secure our planet for future generations, we must promote the responsible production, management, and distribution of food and water resources, particularly across the developing world.
In this regard, the UAE has taken the opportunity to learn from Dutch universities as they share best practices in the field of food security and sustainability. Moreover, the adoption of large indoor farms and high-tech sustainable horticulture solutions from the Netherlands is contributing to the UAE’s local food production objectives as part of the UAE National Food Security Strategy 2051.
In turn, the UAE looks forward to offering the Netherlands a platform to further share these advancements at Expo2020 Dubai, the greatest show of human brilliance, achievement, and innovation our region has ever seen. Hosted for the first time in the Middle East, Expo 2020 Dubai will witness the participation of more than 190 countries alongside major international organisations. Through its unique microclimate pavilion, the Netherlands will enable visitors to explore the nexus between water, energy, and food while linking Dutch agri-tech businesses with global investors and partners to discover solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing challenges.
Including FDI, the total value of bilateral trade between the Netherlands and the UAE totals €8 billion. In 2019 alone, the value of UAE exports to the Netherlands reached €1.51 billion in the trade of goods such as aluminium, electrical equipment, machinery, mineral fuels, and pharmaceuticals.
For the Netherlands, the UAE is an important trading partner in the region. In 2019, the total value of goods and services trade between the Netherlands and the UAE was €6.46 billion, an astounding figure that captures the breadth of our economic relations. The rapid expansion and diversification of the UAE’s economy and the attractive business climate have attracted a large number of Dutch entrepreneurs to the country. Companies like Royal Dutch Shell and Friesland Campina have been present in Abu Dhabi for 60 years or more, long before the Dutch opened their first embassy in the UAE in 1977. Currently, there are over 350 Dutch companies working in the UAE, active in agri-tech, marine services, design, aerospace, dredging, as well as oil and gas among other fields.
This spirit of open exchange has always characterised the UAE-Dutch relationship. As we look to the next 50 years of diplomatic partnership, we continue to strengthen our bilateral relations and our shared efforts towards the promotion of a stable global order, pluralism and sustainable development. With the aim of strengthening bridges of partnership and dialogue, with a particular emphasis on moderation, tolerance, and respect for all cultures and religions, the UAE and the Netherlands have stood out as models of engagement for the international community.
Through cultural cooperation, including high-level visits to the cultural institutions and museums of each country, the UAE and the Netherlands have sought opportunities to share in the rich heritage of the other. The UAE Embassy in the Netherlands has organised field trips to some of the most important museums in the Netherlands in an effort to establish ties between Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Museum, the Sheikh Zayed Museum, and their Dutch counterparts. Our cultural relations now encompass art, architecture, construction, design, and music, and we remain enthusiastic about sharing in the beauty of each other’s background.
Exchanges between Dutch and Emirati youth also form an essential pillar of our collaboration. Dutch youth continue to rank among the healthiest and happiest in the world, while Dubai and Abu Dhabi boast an advanced position in the World Happiness Report. As we look to expand educational cooperation between our countries, we are confident that our students will serve as some of our countries’ best ambassadors for years to come.
Recently, we were delighted to participate in the inaugural UAE-Netherlands Week, which brought together diplomats, government officials, members of civil society organisations, and students.
Throughout this week, we were humbled to hear the ways in which participants have benefited as a result of our countries’ strong ties. From entrepreneurship to education, culture to investment, tourism to technology—we all have stories of exchange built upon mutual interest and friendship between our peoples.
Celebrating 50 years of partnership instilled in us a deep optimism and hope for the future, knowing that our countries will harness our combined resources, expertise, and energy to shape a world worth improving together.
The original text was published in Khaleej Times.