Macron meets “MBZ”, new head of state of the United Arab Emirates

The good relationship between Paris and Abu Dhabi will continue. This is at least the message that Emmanuel Macron wanted to deliver on Sunday. The French president and the new head of state of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nayane, thus spoke, while dignitaries from all over the world flocked to this Gulf country to pay tribute to his late predecessor.

Above all, Emmanuel Macron was the first Western leader to travel to Abu Dhabi to pay tribute to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Emirati president who died on Friday, and to offer his “sincere condolences to all his family and to the people” of the Emirates. , according to the French presidency.

Arrived early in the morning, the president, who was making the first trip of his new five-year term which began on Saturday, went to a palace in Abu Dhabi where he was welcomed by Mohammed ben Zayed Al-Nayane, known as “MBZ”, who became the new president of this oil-rich country.

Emmanuel Macron “expressed his determination to continue and develop everything they have undertaken together for five years. The United Arab Emirates are a strategic partner of France, and the extent of our cooperation, in fields as varied as defence, culture and education, bears witness to this”. The two men then joined the “majlis”, the assembly which brings together in a huge hall of the palace the very many members of the family of the deceased, since his death at the age of 73.

Previous meetings between Macron and MBZ

The UAE wields increased influence in the Middle East and beyond through its oil resources and strategic location. MBZ has been considered the de facto ruler of the country since 2014, when Sheikh Khalifa, his 73-year-old half-brother, was sidelined following a stroke.

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Emmanuel Macron, who met MBZ many times during his first term, never spoke with Sheikh Khalifa, who has declined since his stroke. The French president had visited the Emirates in December 2021, where he had visited the Dubai World Expo and supervised the signing of several contracts, including one for the supply of 80 Rafale fighter jets, a record order for the French fighter aircraft entered service in 2004.

Ukraine on the menu of discussions

On Sunday, the French and Emirati presidents also expressed “their concerns” about the war in Ukraine and its consequences, “in particular on energy and global food security”, according to Emmanuel Macron’s entourage. The latter also had a meeting with his Mauritanian counterpart, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, one of the many leaders present in Abu Dhabi to offer their condolences.

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