United Arab Emirates
Last updated in October 2013
The Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in May 1972. In April 2004 it was agreed to establish a strategic partnership, and in January 2009 to hold regular political consultations between the two countries’ foreign ministries, underlining the intention of the two governments to step up relations in the political sphere as well as maintaining extensive trade relations. State Secretary at the Federal Foreign Office Emily Haber and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash held political consultations in June 2013.
Numerous high-ranking visits reflect the close cooperation between the two countries: the visit by former Federal President Wulff in December 2011 and the visit to Berlin by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in February 2012 as well as the visits by Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Federal Defence Minister De Maizière in June 2012, the visit by Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier in January 2013 and numerous visits by representatives of Germany’s federal states, most recently that by the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, in February 2013. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed visited Berlin in late July 2013 and was guest of honour at an iftar (breaking of the fast) given during Ramadan by Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle. Earlier visits included those by Federal Chancellor Merkel in 2007 and 2010, the visit to Berlin by Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2008, the visit to Abu Dhabi by German Bundestag President Lammert in 2009 and the visits by Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle in January 2010 and April 2011.
The UAE is Germany’s most important trading partner in the Arab world and Germany’s principal market in the region, ahead of Saudi Arabia. In 2012, German exports to the UAE grew by approximately 30 per cent, to EUR 9.77 billion, compared with EUR 7.5 billion in 2011, while German imports from the UAE declined by some 24 per cent, to approximately EUR 0.8 billion, compared with EUR 1 billion in 2011. Germany’s principal exports to the UAE are cars, machinery, electrical goods and chemical products. Germany’s main imports from the UAE are aluminium goods and chemical products.
All the instruments for promoting German foreign trade are available in the UAE. The German Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the German Consulate General in Dubai provide advice and political support; a correspondent of Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) in Dubai draws up sectoral analyses and evaluates calls for tenders. In addition, the German-Emirati Joint Council for Industry and Commerce (AHK) was set up in 2009, making Germany the first country to open a bilateral chamber of industry and commerce in the UAE. Its job is to further intensify bilateral trade and improve German companies’ access to markets in the UAE.
There are some 1000 German companies operating in the UAE, most of them in Dubai (approximately 600) and Abu Dhabi, and a far smaller number in the five Northern Emirates. In addition, the German National Tourist Board and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, respectively. There are some 12,000 German nationals living in the UAE, most of them in Dubai.
Agreements between Germany and the UAE include an air transport agreement, an investment protection agreement and a new double taxation agreement that took retrospective effect as of 1 January 2009 after being ratified in mid-2011.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Goethe Institute (GI) have maintained regional offices for the Gulf Region in Abu Dhabi since May 2006. In addition, a GI German language centre was set up in Dubai in December 2007. There are also cooperation projects between universities and education institutions in Germany and the UAE. A German-Emirati College of Logistics in Abu Dhabi commenced teaching in early 2012. A DAAD-run German language centre was set up at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi in March 2013. A government scholarship programme was implemented with Germany in 2012. There are officially recognised German Schools in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai. Students at the German International School in Abu Dhabi were able to take the German International Abitur for the first time in May 2011; at the school in Dubai, this was possible for the first time in the 2012 school year. 2005 saw the launch of the integration programme for Emirati children at the German International School in Abu Dhabi, with Emirati children being admitted to the school’s kindergarten. In late April 2013, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the Sharjah Museum Department (encompassing 16 museums) and the Goethe Institute signed in Berlin a declaration of intent on long-term cooperation. An exhibition mounted by Berlin’s Museum of Islamic Art is scheduled to be the first cultural highlight of 2014, when Sharjah will be the Capital of Islamic Culture.