The guiding principles of the United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy, first expressed by the country’s founder, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, included “an underlying belief in justice in international dealings between states, a principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other states, and the pursuit, wherever possible, of peaceful resolutions of disputes.” More recently, the UAE has used its financial resources to build a state of the art military focused on air and special forces. As events have propelled the UAE to a regional leadership role, the country has become increasingly active in major coalition operations such as the Saudi-led Yemen intervention and the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
How is the UAE’s foreign policy formulated and how has it developed over time? What are the internal and external pressures that have shaped this policy and propelled the UAE into an increasingly influential position? How has such a small country become a major player in the Middle East at large and an indispensable partner to its regional and global allies?
Mishaal Al Gergawi answered these questions and more during this closed discussion. Al Gergawi is the founder and managing director of the Delma Institute. He holds a BA from the American University in Dubai and a MSc in Finance from Skema Business School. Starting his career as an investment banker at HSBC and Deutsche Bank, Al Gergawi later helped his family establish a building materials business, of which he later became CFO. After maintaining a popular weekly opinion column in local newspapers, he joined Dubai’s government to create its contemporary cultural projects strategy. Al Gergawi continues to write and speak on macro developments within the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.