Last updated in July 2017
The Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in May 1972. The two countries agreed in April 2004 to establish a strategic partnership, and in January 2009 to hold regular political consultations between their foreign ministries, thus demonstrating their intention to build stronger relations in the political sphere while maintaining extensive trade relations.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel paid a visit to Abu Dhabi in early July 2017. He had previously visited the UAE in 2015 in his role as Economic Affairs Minister.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the UAE in May 2017 to hold talks with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In May 2016, the Crown Prince had travelled to Berlin for talks with the Federal Chancellor. Political consultations at state secretary level were held most recently in April 2017 as well as in June and October 2016, each time in Berlin. These numerous high-level visits reflect the close cooperation between the two countries.
German exports to the UAE were worth approximately 14.5 billion euros in 2016, making the UAE – along with Saudi Arabia – Germany’s biggest export market in the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. During the same period, German imports from the UAE totalled 0.9 billion euros. Germany’s main exports to UAE are cars, machinery, electrical goods and chemical products. Its main imports from the UAE are aluminium goods and chemical products. Germany does not import oil from the UAE.
All the instruments for promoting German trade and investment are available in the UAE. The German Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the German Consulate General in Dubai provide advice and political support, while a correspondent of Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) in Dubai draws up sectoral analyses and evaluates calls for tenders but is not engaged in investment acquisition. 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 boost bilateral trade and improve German companies’ access to markets in the country.
There are some 900 German companies operating in the UAE (a number that is growing), 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 and an investment protection agreement, as well as a new double taxation agreement that entered into force retrospectively on 1 January 2009, after being ratified in mid-2011.
Since May 2006, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Goethe-Institut (GI) have maintained regional offices in Abu Dhabi that are responsible for the Gulf states. In addition, the GI set up a German language centre in Dubai in December 2007. There are also cooperation partnerships between universities and education institutions in Germany and the UAE. The German-UAE College of Logistics (GUCL) admitted its first students in early 2012. In the same year, the DAAD established a scholarship programme in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education to encourage UAE students to study in Germany.
There are officially recognised German schools abroad in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai. Students at the German International School Abu Dhabi could sit the German International Abitur examination for the first time in May 2011, while at the German International School Dubai this was possible from the 2012 school year. In 2005, the German International School Abu Dhabi launched an integration programme that involved admitting UAE children to the school, initially at the kindergarten level. In the 2014-2015 school year, the Multilingual International Baccalaureate (GIB) was introduced at the German International School Sharjah.
In Berlin in late April 2013, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the Sharjah Museums Department (encompassing 16 museums) and the Goethe-Institut signed a declaration of intent on long-term cooperation. The first fruit of the partnership was an exhibition entitled “Early Capitals of Islamic Culture”, which was mounted by Berlin’s Museum of Islamic Art in Sharjah, the 2014 Capital of Islamic Culture. The exhibition ran from October 2014 to January 2015.
In addition, in 2014 the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi admitted Germany to its Youth Ambassadors Programme, which enables selected UAE students to attend the GI’s German courses and gain an insight into German working life by visiting and interning with companies in Germany.