Last updated in March 2018
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. His UAE counterpart Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan last visited Germany for talks in August 2015. 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. 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 aircraft, 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 established in 2009 and has offices in Abu Dhabi und Dubai. Germany was thus the first country to open a bilateral chamber of industry and commerce in the UAE. The job of the AHK 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, 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 has an office in Dubai. There are some 14,500 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 double taxation agreement.
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 21 cooperation partnerships between universities and education institutions in Germany and the UAE, including a partnership in the field of logistics between the Abu Dhabi branch of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and three German universities of applied sciences. Preparations are already underway to launch a dual Bachelor of Science degree programme. This is a joint project involving cooperation between the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University, UAE-based companies and the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge. In 2009, the DAAD established a government scholarship programme in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education to encourage UAE students to study in Germany. There have so far been no DAAD government scholarship recipients at Bachelor’s level, but a number of Master’s students and medical specialists have received direct support from the Ministry of Education’s scholarship programme.
There are officially recognised German schools abroad in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai. Students at the German International School Abu Dhabi were able to 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 2008, the German International School Abu Dhabi launched an integration programme that involves admitting up to 15 UAE children to the school’s kindergarten each year. 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. This has resulted in joint projects such as the annual SAWA Museum Academy and the “Early Capitals of Islamic Culture” exhibition, which was mounted by Berlin’s Museum of Islamic Art in 2014.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.