UAE’s De Facto Ruler Expected to Visit Turkey as Ties Warm
The United Arab Emirates’ de facto ruler is expected to visit President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey as soon as next week, a senior Turkish official said, in the highest level visit since relations began to warm earlier this year.
The visit by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan comes after a phone conversation between the two leaders in August appeared to turn the page on years of hostile rhetoric, part of a broader realignment that’s seen erstwhile Middle East rivals patch up differences and target stronger economic and business ties. Two people familiar with UAE thinking confirmed the plans for a visit but did not specify a time-frame.
In a shift accelerated by the pandemic, the UAE has been reaching out to old foes and has focused on improving economic ties after backing off from regional conflicts. In Turkey, where Erdogan’s popularity is at an all-time low ahead of elections in 2023, there has also been a foreign policy shift toward better ties with Europe and in the Middle East.
During the planned visit, the leaders will discuss economic relations and the UAE’s possible investment plans in Turkey, the Turkish official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the details have not been made public.
The UAE government media office, and Abu Dhabi media office, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Erdogan’s office declined to comment.
Ties between the UAE and Turkey had been strained for years over regional politics. The two countries supported opposing sides in Libya’s civil war and disagreed on issues including gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Relations began to improve in August following a surprise meeting between Erdogan and the UAE’s national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Since then, the two countries have struck several business deals while Abu Dhabi wealth funds have been looking for business in Turkey, scouting targets for billions of dollars in potential investments, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in September.
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