Reliable Allies for 41 Years

Select a time period: 70s | 80s | 90s | '00-'04 | '05 and Beyond



  • President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan unites six independent states to form the United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. Ras Al Khaimah would join the federation in February 1972.
  • The US becomes the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the UAE.


  • The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi is established.
  • The Hilton Al Ain opens, making US-based Hilton the first international hotel brand to operate in the UAE.


  • The UAE establishes an embassy in Washington, DC.


  • Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, determines that its oil industry will remain open to outside investment, allowing US companies to continue their involvement. Today, the UAE is the only oil producer in the Gulf region to maintain international private-sector participation in the oil industry.


  • General Motors Middle East opens in Dubai.



  • The “Carter Doctrine” is defined when US President Jimmy Carter declares that “ attempt by any outside force to gain control of the ...[Arabian] Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”


  • The UAE supports the US role in the Tanker War, part of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). After this, the UAE supports the presence of US and other foreign naval vessels in the Gulf to guarantee freedom of passage for all trading ships.
  • UAE athletes participate in their first summer Olympics in Los Angeles.



  • Iraq invades Kuwait in August. Abu Dhabi provides financial and logistical assistance to the US during Operation Desert Storm. The UAE deploys 2,000 of its own troops in the conflict.
  • Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi is first used for US Air Force operations. Today, US forces use Al Dhafra to conduct in-flight refueling missions.
  • UAE President HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan receives James A. Baker III, the first US Secretary of State to visit the UAE.


  • The UAE emerges as one of the world’s largest markets for American-manufactured military and defense hardware. Between 1992 and 1994, the UAE spends $360 million on US defense equipment.


  • The UAE and US sign a defense pact, permitting the US to base troops and equipment within federation borders. Jebel Ali port, in Dubai, is crucial to US naval operations, as it is the only harbor in the Gulf deep enough to berth an aircraft carrier.
  • McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in the UAE.


  • The UAE joins the World Trade Organization.
  • The American University in Dubai is founded. It is the first American Institution of higher learning in the UAE.


  • UAE troops participate in the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led international peacekeeping force established under UN mandate. The UAE is the only Arab country to do so.
  • Baltimore, Maryland-based Johns Hopkins Medicine establishes an Abu Dhabi office to manage travel and care for Middle Eastern patients.
  • The American University of Sharjah is established.



  • The UAE purchases 80 F-16 fighter jets from the US for approximately $7 billion.


  • Abu Dhabi and Houston, Texas, become Sister Cities.
  • The United States is attacked on September 11. UAE authorities are among the first to condemn Al Qaeda. The UAE immediately severs relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The UAE orders banks to freeze the assets of dozens of organizations and individuals suspected of funding terrorism.


  • Dubai becomes the first Emirate to allow foreign ownership of property.
  • The UAE-US Strategic Partnership is launched by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.


  • Dubai and Detroit, Michigan become Sister Cities.
  • UAE President HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan presents US General Tommy Franks with the Emirates Military Order of First Class, the highest military honor in the UAE, “in appreciation of his role in promoting cooperation and friendship between the UAE and the United States of America.”
  • The United States invades Iraq, joined by forces from the United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark and Poland.
  • The UAE provides significant monetary and materiel support to the US-backed Iraqi government, pledging $215 million in economic and reconstruction assistance.


  • Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is appointed as the UAE’s first woman minister.
  • His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan dies. US Secretary of State Colin Powell sends condolences, describing the UAE founder as “a model of generosity, wisdom and leadership.” His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nayhan becomes president.
  • Construction begins on Burj Khalifa, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP of Chicago, Illinois, designed to be the tallest man-made structure in the world when completed.
  • A UAE-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement is signed.
  • World’s largest General Motors Showroom opens in Sharjah (Liberty Automobiles).

2005 and Beyond


  • The UAE-US Joint Military Commission is established. The agenda focuses on mutual counter-terrorism efforts, the link between terrorism and narcotics trafficking, and efforts to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • The UAE and US begin Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
  • Hurricane Katrina hits the US Gulf Coast. The UAE provides $100 million to help the victims, one of the largest donations by any nation.
  • Dubai Ports Authority joins the US Department of Homeland Security's Container Security Initiative, which allows US customs officials to work in Dubai ports and inspect 100 percent of all goods going to the United States.
  • NASDAQ Dubai opens in Dubai.


  • The US-UAE Joint Terrorist Financing Coordinating Committee (JTFCC) is launched to address issues of shared concern including cash couriers, charities and hawala and their involvement in the financing of terrorism.
  • Dubai Ports World purchases a British company managing some US ports, creating controversy in the US. DPW sells US port operations to a third party in 2007.
  • The US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research is launched, uniting the UAE, US and Saudi Arabia in the fight against the disease.
  • The UAE holds indirect elections for the Federal National Council, a consultative parliamentary body.
  • The US and UAE Free Trade Agreement discussions are suspended. TIFA plus discussions initiated to build on FTA progress.
  • The UAE joins Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to form the “Arab Quartet” to support international efforts to promote Middle East peace.
  • Delta Airlines becomes the first US carrier to have non-stop service from the US (Atlanta) to Dubai.
  • The US Chamber of Commerce launches the US-UAE Business Council, involving a number of leading companies committed to expanding commercial relations between the two countries.


  • Tiger Woods Dubai, the first golf course designed by Woods, breaks ground.
  • The UAE cracks down on more than 60 companies under its stringent new export control laws.
  • Emirates Airlines details plans to buy 12 Boeing 777s worth approximately $3.2 billion. This order, along with previous sales, means that Boeing will, on average, deliver one airplane a month to Emirates Airlines for at least the next four years.
  • New York University announces plans for an Abu Dhabi campus, the first comprehensive liberal arts campus established abroad by a major US research university.
  • Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology cooperate to establish the world’s first graduate level university focused on future energy. The research campus will be headquartered in Abu Dhabi.


  • The UAE hosts a visit by President George W. Bush, meeting with government leaders including HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He also participated in a roundtable with young Arab leaders.
  • Dubai’s Jafza International announces a plan for a new warehouse and transportation hub in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The “greenfield” facility could involve a $600 million dollar investment in a location with high unemployment and create as many as 5,000 new jobs.
  • Abu Dhabi initiates a global dialogue to clarify the investment principles of government-owned funds. This International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds, which includes the US Treasury, finalizes the “Santiago Principles” and in October, 23 countries commit to operate their funds purely on commercial principles and adopt transparency measures.
  • The UAE releases its first comprehensive progress reports on human trafficking, labor rights and the status of women. The reports indicate progress made and future goals, supporting efforts to make the government more accountable and transparent.
  • The US Congress approves a UAE request to purchase more than $15 billion in defense equipment, including the world’s most sophisticated missile defense system. The UAE is the only country, other than the United States, to deploy this technology.


  • The UAE becomes the first country in the Arabian Gulf to sign an agreement with the United States to cooperate on development of a civilian nuclear energy program. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), the entity responsible for overseeing the UAE’s nuclear program, is established.
  • National Geographic Abu Dhabi starts broadcasting as the first official Arabic language edition of the National Geographic Channel.
  • CNN Abu Dhabi opens its doors, expanding the global reach of the US-based news company. Located in Abu Dhabi’s media zone, twofour54, the CNN bureau coordinates newsgathering for CNN’s regional operations and features an HD and on-line production facility with 24/7 live capability.
  • UAE Air Force F-16 pilots participate for the first time in Red Flag, an advanced aerial combat training exercise with US military that is held annually at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.


  • His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, joined US President Barack Obama and other global leaders in Washington DC at the Nuclear Security Summit.
  • Emirates Airlines becomes the world’s largest airline operator of Boeing 777 aircraft.
  • NYU-Abu Dhabi admits first class for new campus in UAE.


  • The UAE deployed a dozen fighter jets for combat missions under NATO command to protect the Libyan people throughout the conflict, and support the National Transitional Council.
  • The UAE participates for the first time at a G20 meeting.
  • 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 St. John’s Mercy Hospital.
  • The UAE Women’s National Soccer Team spends three weeks in the United States training with the Philadelphia Independence of the National Women’s Soccer League. The program includes joint coaching and training sessions, as well as visits to several area youth clubs and community service activities.
  • The UAE Embassy partners with Manchester City to build soccer fields for children in East Los Angeles, Miami and Harlem, NYC.
  • The United States and UAE announce that Abu Dhabi will be headquarters for Hedayah, the International Center of Excellence in Countering Violent Extremism, which focuses on combating terror and radicalism.


  • The number of US cities served by UAE airlines with nonstop flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi increases to eight, with the launch of new nonstop flights by Emirates Airline from Dallas, Seattle and Washington, DC.
  • The Sheikh Zayed Tower for Cardiovascular Care at Johns Hopkins Medical Center opens in Baltimore.


  • Making aviation history with the largest ever commercial aircraft order, UAE passenger airlines purchase over 300 new Boeing aircraft with a value of more than $120 billion at the Dubai Airshow.
  • Less than a decade after the first nonstop flights between the UAE and the US and in recognition of the strong bilateral ties, nine US cities offer non-stop daily flights to the UAE.
  • The UAE provides a $4.5 million donation to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to repair and enhance technology infrastructure in over 30 public schools destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
  • In September 2013 Lana Nusseibeh presents 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.


  • The cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas are also now the home of direct flights between the UAE and American cities each week, expanding the airlines’ presence in the US.
  • New York University in Abu Dhabi graduates its first class of 150 students from 39 countries. The campus also moves to its permanent home on Saadiyat Island, a larger location to house 2,000 students.
  • In May 2014, Meridian International Center and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates launches Past Forward: Contemporary Arts for the Emirates, the first major touring exhibition of Emirati art in the world. The exhibition tells the story of the UAE’s rich history, culture and rapid development through the works of 25 notable Emirati artists.
  • In October 2014, the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and the Government of the United Arab Emirates launch the Emirates Leadership Initiative (ELI), an innovative new education program. The five-year program promotes educational exchanges between the UAE and US and helps train and empower emerging leaders and public officials across the UAE and the Middle East.


  • In May 2015, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi opens its doors to patients in all units. A unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s Model of Care, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides direct access to the world’s best healthcare, reducing the need for patients to travel abroad for treatment.
  • In July 2015, the US and the UAE partner to launch the Sawab Center, a multinational online messaging and engagement program that seeks to counter extremist propaganda. Emirati and American experts at the Center work side by side in both Arabic and English.  The word Sawab in Arabic signifies “doing the right thing” or being on the “right path.”
  • In December 2015, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens premiers, adding another chapter to the storied American film series. Significant portions of the movie were filmed in the desert of Abu Dhabi, with support from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission.