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The principles guiding UAE foreign policy were expressed by the country’s first President, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheikh Zayed’s principles included an underlying belief in justice in international dealings between states, a principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other states and the pursuit, wherever possible, of peaceful resolutions of disputes, with strong support for international institutions, such as the United Nations (UN).
Through its support for such institutions, the UAE seeks to reinforce the rule of international law, and to support the implementation of international conventions, protecting the interests of the small, the weak and the powerless. Foreign aid targeting poverty reduction, education and public health is a priority as well. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UAE was the world’s biggest foreign aid donor in 2014 for the second consecutive year, allocating 1.26% of gross national income to foreign developmental aid.
Within the Arabian Gulf region, and in the broader Arab world, the UAE has sought to enhance cooperation and to resolve disagreement through dialogue.
Security and Stability
The UAE occupies a critical strategic position on the Arabian Gulf, where nearly one-quarter of the world’s oil is produced and shipped. Today, the UAE provides UN, US, European Union (EU) and NATO forces unprecedented access to ports and territory, fly over clearance and other critical logistical assistance.
The UAE has joined it allies to support the global fight against terrorism in restoring stability to the Middle East. The UAE has frozen the accounts of known terrorists and enacted aggressive anti-money laundering initiatives. New counter-terrorist financing laws and regulations have been introduced and enforced.
The UAE is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Arab League, as well as the UN and its agencies.
Supporting the Government of Yemen
The UAE is participating in a regional coalition led by Saudi Arabia to support the legitimacy of the government of Yemen. The UAE’s involvement was a response to a request from President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to provide the necessary support in combating the extremist opposition and save the people of Yemen, as Al Houthi and Al Qaeda factions have caused chaos and instability in the country and region.
The UAE continues to support a political solution in Yemen through the consensus and agreement of all parties. The UAE supports UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and the UN Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheick Ahmed, in his efforts to reach a political solution. In addition, the UAE maintains a continuous commitment to providing humanitarian aid and emergency assistance to help the Yemenis.
Supporting the Resolution of the Syrian Crisis
The UAE is deeply concerned with the inability of the international community to end the violence in Syria and the crimes committed by the regime on its own people. The UAE believes that the only solution to the crisis is a political one.
With the rise of refugees and displaced Syrians, the UAE is committed to solving this humanitarian situation. The UAE has extended foreign assistance to the Syrian people and the neighboring countries receiving them. The UAE itself has received more than 100,000 Syrians, giving them residency status. Since the start of the Syria crisis in 2011, the UAE has provided $700 million in support of Syrian refugees.
Supporting the New Iraqi Government
The UAE supports the Iraqi government in achieving peace and security in Iraq in order to reach unity and put an end to sectarianism. The UAE will continue its humanitarian commitments in Iraq and will continue supporting programs that help people in affected areas.
The UAE believes that the stability and prosperity of Egypt is that of the region. The UAE is confident that Egypt will overcome existing challenges. Egypt has an important position in the region being the exporter of Arab Nationalism and Islamic thought. The UAE praises Al-Azhar Institution for its longstanding commitment in combatting extremist ideologies.
The UAE has supported Egypt with significant development assistance to help the Egyptian economy recover since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi in mid-July 2013. The UAE is committed to helping the people of Egypt through economic reforms and through the creation of jobs and opportunities.
Commitment to Afghanistan
The UAE continues to make a significant humanitarian contribution in Afghanistan, and has done so since 2003. In 2013, UAE donor organizations disbursed grants worth $117.5 million towards a wide-range of foreign aid projects. UAE assistance to Afghanistan has increased by 188% since 2011. The UAE Government has dedicated over $30 million to international reconstruction efforts in the country. From 2011 to 2013, the UAE contributed 60% of its assistance to development, nearly 20% to humanitarian purposes and nearly 20% to charity. And the UAE people have made over $22 million in private contributions. These investments have contributed to the construction of schools, medical clinics, a major hospital, a public library and numerous mosques, among other projects.
The UAE has a military presence in Afghanistan, with a strictly defensive purpose, consistent with the UAE Constitution. The UAE Armed Forces on the ground are focused on the protection of humanitarian initiatives and ensuring safety and stability for local communities. Personnel are also directly involved in culturally sensitive community development activities, especially activities necessitating knowledge of the Arabic language or Islamic traditions, alongside representatives of key humanitarian organizations such as the Red Crescent.
Recent achievements in healthcare, education and the provision of basic infrastructure can in part be attributed to the work of the UAE Armed Forces in the provision of safety, stability and culturally sensitive community development.
The UAE, alongside members of the international community, shares a deep concern over Iran’s aggression in the region and its impact on peace and stability. The UAE fully supports and enforces UN Security Council resolutions barring shipment of sensitive materials and technologies to Iran. The UAE is concerned with Iran’s aggression in the region. The UAE also calls for restoration of the UAE’s three invaded islands, Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb.
Located just across the Gulf, the UAE and Iran have historic ties, including a significant trading relationship. The UAE and its allies in the GCC want the entire region to be free of weapons of mass destruction.
Israel and Palestine
The UAE believes that the restoration of security, peace and stability in the region, and the normalization of relations between all countries, including Israel, can be achieved with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, within the context of a just and lasting peace agreement, based upon the Arab peace initiative.
The UAE participated in the 2007 Annapolis talks and is a member of the Arab Quartet, and actively promotes a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.