The United Arab Emirates, in the spirit of continuing to expand its sphere of influence and regional leadership, will seek closer ties with Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. The Turkish president's invitation to Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is the first step in what is expected to be a major rapprochement between the two sides, who meet on Wednesday on Ottoman soil. The UAE has been making strides for years on its path to leadership - competing with its ally Saudi Arabia - although Turkey was not one of the Emiratis' most loyal supporters. The two countries aim to reverse this trend and forge a strong partnership for the near future.
Economic investment and bilateral cooperation are the two red-letter items on the agenda for Zayed and Erdogan's meeting. There are several regional issues on which the Emirati and Turkish positions have not been entirely close - quite the contrary. Therefore, the Turkish presidency's communiqué states that they will "discuss steps that can be taken to enhance cooperation". It should be borne in mind that Recep Tayyip Erdogan's country is not going through its most peaceful moment due to ongoing disagreements with the United States over its arms purchases from Russia.
The opportunity to get closer to one of the most solid countries in the Middle East is transcendental for a government like Erdogan's which, according to the latest polls, would lose right now in a hypothetical election in which the Republican People's Party (CHP) would win. It is worth remembering that the next elections are not scheduled until 2023, so Erdogan has a wide margin for manoeuvre to redirect these foreseeable results, thanks, among other things, to winning the support of the main powers.
In any case, it will not be easy for the Turkish regime to correct the immense number of mistakes that have been made since Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power. What is certain is that, as far as relations with the UAE are concerned, much progress has been made in recent months. On 18 August this year, the Turkish president received an Emirati delegation to discuss 'especially economic and trade cooperation and investment opportunities in the fields of transport, health and energy, in a way that achieves common interests between the two countries'.
Following Erdogan's conversation with the UAE's National Security Advisor during that meeting, the Ottoman president assured that the UAE 'will make important investments in Turkey, if the negotiations go well'. In other words, the first step had already been taken, but no agreement had materialised - far from it. Some of the groundwork for rapprochement had already been done in June, when Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Tango Bilgic said that 'there is willingness on the part of Turkey to improve relations with the UAE'.
Bilgic himself stated on that occasion that the security and stability of the Gulf is one of Ankara's main concerns. Thus, developing cooperation with the UAE is considered one of the priority objectives in achieving this stability. "I believe that the development of existing cooperation between Turkey and the UAE is very important in terms of forming a model for the rest of the countries in the region and a catalyst for regional stability," Turkish Trade Minister Mehmet Mus said during his speech at the Turkish-Emirati Business Forum in Dubai.
Minister Mus appealed to Emirati investors to attract them to Turkey, which he explained is in a very prominent regional and international position in terms of investment opportunities. Indeed, he announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding that would exponentially improve trade cooperation with the UAE. However, the UAE also sees Turkey as an opportunity to achieve genuine peace in the region, while continuing to expand its influence. One of the initiatives on the table is the creation of a trade route between the two countries via Iran, which aims to greatly shorten flight times.