United Arab Emirates: Bilateral Relations to Germany United Arab Emirates

24.01.2019 - Article

Political relations

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.

Then Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel paid a visit to Abu Dhabi in early July 2017. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, 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 travelled to Berlin for talks with the Federal Chancellor.

Economic relations

German exports to the UAE were worth approximately 14.5 billion euros in 2016 but have since dropped (2017: 11.1 billion euros). Nevertheless, the UAE remains Germany’s most important trading partner and, along with Saudi Arabia, the biggest export market in the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In 2017, German imports totalled approximately 1 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 petrochemical 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. The German-Emirati Joint Council for Industry and Commerce which has offices in Abu Dhabi und Dubai was set up in 2009. Germany was thus the first country to open a bilateral chamber of industry and commerce in the UAE. The job of the Joint Council 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 14,000 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 double taxation agreement.

Cultural relations

The Goethe-Institut has maintained a regional office for the Gulf states in Abu Dhabi since May 2006. A Goethe-Institut German language centre was set up 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. 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. Currently, moves are being made to examine setting up a DAAD lectorship at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi from September 2019.

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 (annual SAWA Museum Academy). March 2019 sees the launch of cooperation in the film sphere between the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg.


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.



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