Turkish president in UAE to pay respects, deepening detente

AP , Tuesday 17 May 2022

Turkey's president visited the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to pay respects to the federation's late ruler and congratulate his successor, deepening a rapprochement between the countries.

Erdogan in UAE
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R), President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, receiving condolences from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) who arrived in the Emirati capital on May 17, 2022 following the death last week of Sheikh Mohamed s half-brother Khalifa, the late president of the Gulf state. AFP


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised Abu Dhabi's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his elevation to power. From the reception hall at Abu Dhabi airport, he offered condolences on the death of the long-ailing late President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Turkish government said.

In a scene unthinkable just a decade ago as ties between the countries frayed over Turkey's support for Islamist groups around the Middle East, Erdogan pulled Sheikh Mohammed in for a big hug.

Erdogan's trip on Tuesday marks his second to the UAE this year as Turkey, diplomatically isolated and in desperate need of foreign currency and investment, seeks to mend fences with old foes _ including most recently with Saudi Arabia.

During Sheikh Mohammed's visit to Ankara last fall, the UAE pledged $10 billion to push investment into Turkey. Ahead of Erdogan's first state visit to the UAE in nine years in February, the countries agreed to a currency swap equivalent to nearly $5 billion. Trade volumes surged over 54% last year compared to 2020.

It's a stark turnaround from the aftermath of the 2011 popular uprisings. Gulf Arab states seethed at Turkey's embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, which they consider a terrorist group. Turkey and the UAE competed for influence across the region, backing opposing sides in Libya's civil war and in a Saudi-led boycott of Qatar.

Erdogan was just the latest dignitary to jet to oil-rich Abu Dhabi to pay his respects. In a dramatic display of the UAE's influence abroad, an extraordinary array of presidents, prime ministers and princes has descended on the UAE over the past few days to offer tribute and praise the succession.

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