United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan arrived in Paris on Sunday with energy and transportation deals on the agenda on his first overseas state visit.
On Monday in the Elysee Palace, he is scheduled to meet with his French colleague Emmanuel Macron.
The visit of the UAE president comes after Joe Biden’s first trip to the Middle East as president, which included a stop in Saudi Arabia. At this time, Western powers are still pleading with both Riyadh and the UAE to increase oil production in order to lower the high energy prices brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A presidential advisor at the Elysee told AFP that the announcement of “guarantees given by the UAE on quantities of hydrocarbon supplies to France” is expected to be a crucial aspect of the trip. The advisor was referring to diesel deliveries.
The UAE exported 1.5 billion euros worth of hydrocarbons to France in 2019, a majority of which were refined petroleum products; nevertheless, the country is not currently supplied with diesel by the Emirates.
France is seeking “to diversify its sources of supply in the context of the conflict in Ukraine,” the Elysee source added.
During the three-day tour, MOUs and contracts are also anticipated to be signed in the transportation and waste treatment industries.
In recent years, relations between the two nations have significantly improved. The only overseas Louvre museum is located in the United Arab Emirates, which also inked a record-breaking 14 billion euro contract for 80 Rafale fighter jets in December.
The greatest French- and Francophone-speaking expat population in the Gulf is concentrated in the UAE.
After the death of his half-brother, the long-ill Sheikh Khalifa, who had served as the de facto ruler of the UAE for years, Sheikh Mohamed, often known as MBZ, assumed power in May.
According to Anne Gadel, a member of the North Africa Middle East Observatory at the Fondation Jean Jaures in Paris, the visit to France “has of course a very symbolic dimension and illustrates… Macron and MBZ’s good personal relations.”
“This trip will be marked by energy issues in a context where European countries are worried about growing inflation driven by high energy prices”, she added.
The US and European powers have both tried to exert pressure on the Gulf states to increase their oil production.
Sheikh Mohamed of the UAE may be sending “a signal to the US… meaning: we are not in a hurry to respond to the US’ demands at all costs” by choosing France as his first foreign trip as president as opposed to the US, according to Gadel.
Long a strategic ally of the United States, the UAE has recently made clear its independence by declining to vote in the UN Security Council’s February vote on a US-Albanian draft resolution denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden extended a visitation invitation to his Emirati counterpart on Saturday.