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UAE President’s First State Trip to Paris Promises Several Deals

The United Arab Emirates will sign several agreements with France during Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit next week, his first trip abroad since becoming the president in May.

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(Bloomberg) —

The United Arab Emirates will sign several agreements with France during Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit next week, his first trip abroad since becoming the president in May.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host the UAE leader, commonly known as MBZ, in Paris on July 18 and 19 to discuss bilateral deals, according to Diplomatic Adviser Anwar Gargash.

“This visit is one where we want to explore further areas of cooperation,” Gargash said in a virtual press briefing on Friday. One of the agreements will be on sustainable energy, he said.

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Under MBZ’s leadership, the UAE accelerated its transformation from a regional oil-reliant business hub into a key political player — and arguably the most economically diversified nation in the Middle East. The UAE was also the first Gulf country to commit itself to eliminating planet-warming emissions within its borders by 2050.

France and the UAE share common interests in the Middle East and beyond. They both supported military commander Khalifa Haftar in Libya, who is influential in the oil-rich east. The two countries also sided with Greece in its dispute with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean over gas exploration and sovereignty. And while the UAE has moved to patch up relations with Turkey, this is likely to remain a sticking point. 

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“Our mutual goal is to maintain the ceasefire in Libya, but also to move forward with the political process and the stability and reach a point where we can see an election that will actually end this crises,” Gargash said.

Last year, the oil-rich Gulf nation agreed to buy 80 Rafale fighter jets from France as part of a 17 billion-euro ($17.1 billion) deal signed during Macron’s visit to the UAE. 

Gargash said the UAE, the third-biggest OPEC producer, is concerned about the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine especially on global energy prices.

Brent crude prices surged this year above $100 per barrel, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and worsening the energy crunch in Europe. Macron had reportedly told US President Joe Biden that Sheikh Mohammed told him the UAE and neighboring Saudi Arabia are pumping near oil production limits at the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Germany last month.

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Biden will head to Saudi Arabia from Israel later on Friday, where he’ll meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the nation’s de-facto ruler. He will meet other leaders from the oil-exporting Gulf on Saturday in Jeddah. Bloomberg earlier reported the US president will leave Saudi Arabia this week with no public announcements on oil.

“This will be an important part of the discussion and the UAE will be there on whatever agreement there is,” said Gargash. “Again, we have always said that we very much would like to see a more stable oil market but at the same time, we are part of a group and we will abide by that group’s decisions.”



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