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Saudi Arabia's security and stability are essential for the UAE
Source: Capital Club Dubai , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Thu October 29, 2015 5:48 pm

UAE. Tuesday, October 20th saw a fascinating discussion between Chairman of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences Professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla and Gulf News Editor-at-Large Francis Matthew as they discussed the UAE's unique confidence despite being surrounded by countries in turmoil.

Seated next to one another in the Signature Dining room at the Capital Club, Dubai’s Premier Private City Club, Matthew and Abdulla discussed everything from the war in Yemen and coping with Iran post-deal, to the topics of building a strong national identity and what the future holds for the UAE.

The evening started with an introduction from Francis Matthew, who outlined how the UAE’s profile has changed radically in recent years. Historically, the UAE made it its business to keep quiet and move forward with its own internal development.

However, following the revolutions of the Arab Spring and more recent events, the UAE began to speak up for its values based on tolerance and equality. And despite the growing chaos in the region, the UAE has remained strong - in Matthew's words, "Something went right," and it was that very sentiment which led the conversation at the Capital Club on Tuesday.

"The UAE, in many ways, is probably today - in 2015 - in the best shape possible in all of its history”, began Professor Abdulla. He explained that this sentiment was in direct contrast to the region surrounding the UAE, which is going through one of its worst periods in recent memory. He then raised the question of 'how' the UAE does so well in sustaining that stability.

Abdulla stated that the UAE’s strategy of taking preventive and pre-emptive steps to sustain stability have led the UAE to form a close strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, whose security and stability are essential for the UAE. He added that the same driving force was the UAE's reasoning for going into Egypt—along with wanting to help the UAE also needed to support the nation state and help rebuild peace in the region.

The conversation on Egypt led to a discussion on Yemen, with Abdulla stating his belief that the UAE’s involvement in Yemen was made because any collapse of Yemen would be a direct threat to the security of Saudi Arabia and of the UAE.

When Matthew asked: "What if there is no political solution in Yemen in the future” Is the UAE stuck there or is there a solution?"

The answer, according to Abdulla, is that whatever the end result is, the UAE had to intervene at that point. This is because, as a country, the UAE doesn't exist in a bubble and while there are awful by-products of such interventions - such as the recent terrible loss of 45 UAE lives in one incident - not intervening would have led to an even worse outcome.

Even if the UAE is seen as a soft power, recent history shows that soft powers have to be able to bite, and conflicts like the one experienced in Yemen make the UAE stronger as a country.

Abdulla pointed to a further advantage that the UAE offers of its unique list of international friends that the country can consults and seek support as much as possible to assist the region.

Turing to Abdulla made it clear that the UAE has been working hard to help the Syrians, but along with the international community as a whole it could have done more to try to stop the horrifying war. Looking ahead and in the light of Russia's recent involvement in Syria, he emphasised that the GCC remains firm that they will all act as one in this very difficult arena, following the Saudi lead.

A spirited question and answer series followed, before the conversation moved on to how over the decades a single Emirati identity has emerged which unquestioningly combines all seven emirates. In response to the point raised, Abdulla said: "As a federation, [we] always have this blessing of seven more or less competing and complementary emirates, where everyone is working to benefit one entity."

He said: "[the strong national identity] is because of the success of the country, and because the federal government has delivered to the poorer part of the country, the welfare programme, housing, education health etc... the war in Yemen and the difficult surroundings have added more to the development of one identity called today ‘Emirati’. The citizens of the UAE today have a sense of belonging more than any time in our history."

The informative evening ended with the subject of maintaining cohesion and trust in a time of external turmoil and resultant UAE casualties. Abdulla said: "In our 44 years of history, we have had two tragic days... the first was the late [Sheikh] Zayed, when he died, that was a huge national grief that engulfed all of us, and the second thing was September 5th, when we had 45 fatalities in one day. That was a huge shock as this is not a country that is used to grief."

He went on to point out however that the sadness of those days, especially September 5th, did not dent the national cohesion and perhaps those bad days bind the UAE together as much as the good ones do. He concluded by saying that having leaders who help the country handle these tragic moments are the reason that cohesion in the UAE is ensured. 

Photo caption: Chairman of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences Professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla

About Capital Club Dubai
Capital Club is Dubai’s Premier Private City Club situated in the heart of the financial district – DIFC. The Club was opened in 2008 and has over 1500 Members, drawn from the leading businesses in the region.  A members-only Club in a contemporary setting for Members to network professionally and socially; dine and party; host private meetings; and attend a wealth of social and business events, covering emerging trends in arts, culture, media, social development, cuisine, business and travel.

 

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