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04 March 2024

Bush visits UAE on his Middle East 'lap of honour'

By Vigyan Arya




US President George W Bush is due to arrive in Abu Dhabi on Sunday on an official visit to the UAE as part of a broader tour of the Middle East.

In the home straight of his second term in office, the United States President (pictured above in Kuwait on Friday) has already begun a lap of honour of the Middle East, or so his administration believes.
However, looking back at the region of eight years ago, when he took over as chief executive of the US, eco-political relations between the two nations have taken a turn for the unexpected, believe experts on the region.

Now, as Bush heads for his first visit to the UAE, and with the intention of mending economic ties, the US administration intends to address everything that has been left pending.

As strategic partners, the two countries share concern for regional balance of power and enhancing economic relations that go beyond oil and defence equipment. The UAE is the United States’ largest export market in the Middle East, generating nearly $12 billion (Dh44bn) in 2006. This one-sided deficit is a concern for local businesses and in the advent of suspended Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks the two sides are keen to find a temporary solution.

Apart from this, the two sides will be in serious discussion for enhancing stability and security in the Arabian Gulf and the broader Middle East.

The UAE will seek a trade balance and elimination of “quotas” for exports from the region. In an all out effort, Dubai’s emerging image as the new-economic centre of the region will mainly gain from the suspension of state-protection of US businesses and openly accepting foreign merchandise from the region. Talks between the two sides will also touch the future plans of GCC going nuclear, as a long term solution to region’s energy needs.

With France and Russia showing keen interest in providing technical support, the United States would not like to stay out of the atomic game in the region.