By: Chargé d’Affaires Steven C. Bondy
Soon we’ll welcome Ambassador John Rakolta as the first Ambassador to the UAE to come from the business community. His background in construction is well-known, as he developed Walbridge into a worldwide success. During his Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, he made it clear that he would use his business experience to boost the U.S. – UAE trade and investment relationship – the foundation, I believe, that will ensure our bilateral ties endure the test of time.
Today, U.S. exports to the UAE are larger than to any other country in the Middle East/North Africa region. And that has been the case for 10 years running. There are 1,500 U.S. companies based in the UAE. Emirati investment in the United States is greater than from any other in the Arab world.
Over the past year, the UAE has demonstrated its openness to the world. During this Year of Tolerance, the UAE organized the first Papal visit to the Middle East and hosted the Special Olympics, held for the first time in the Middle East/North Africa region. Next year, the UAE will host Expo 2020 in Dubai, another first for the region.
U.S. and UAE commercial and economic relationships have continued to expand over the past several years. In 2017, Amazon acquired Souq UAE for an estimated $580 million and announced, along with Microsoft, the installation of local cloud data centers. In 2018, the $1 billion Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi opened to the public. In 2019, ADNOC granted Occidental Petroleum an onshore exploration block in Abu Dhabi. This award represents a $244 million investment from OXY during the exploration phase. Also this year, Uber reached an agreement to acquire Careem for $3.1 billion. There are other partnerships in such diverse sectors as artificial intelligence, infrastructure, healthcare, space, and education.
These deals represent more than the dollar amount of the investments. They reflect relationships that will forge the long-term stability of our bilateral ties. As we get ready to enjoy our annual Discover America campaign October 14-27, we celebrate and reinforce the business ties that will help our relationship thrive into the future. During Discover America, we will be able to experience and celebrate American food, culture, and music here in the UAE, in addition to presenting high-quality solutions to business challenges, while strengthening the bonds between our two nations.
There is much to be proud of about our current commercial relationship, and as we look forward to welcoming our Ambassador Rakolta, we are enthusiastic about a bright future in which these connections are even stronger.