As-salaam aleikum. Thank you for the opportunity to send greetings, on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development, to everyone gathered to celebrate this agreement.
I am honored to be here to join you for this occasion, and I thank you for your hospitality.
Thank you to Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, for her friendship. Thank you Ambassador Rakolta, for signing this Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of USAID.
But right now, we are here to celebrate the expansion and strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the United States and the UAE.
Just last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with his UAE Foreign Minister counterpart, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, launched the inaugural U.S.-UAE Strategic Dialogue, which reaffirms our close coordination across many sectors.
For example, the UAE is the only Arab nation to fight alongside the U.S. in six military coalitions: the first Gulf War, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Kosovo, and now—the fight against ISIS.
We also stand together for regional stability—and we appreciate our joint efforts to counter the malign influence of the Iranian regime. We are thankful that the UAE has been supportive of our maximum pressure campaign.
On the domestic front, the UAE is one of the top investors in the United States.
And the UAE has been a partner in America’s times of crisis. You have graciously provided assistance to numerous recovery efforts in the U.S. including Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey.
So as we can see, the UAE has been a key ally for the United States across the globe on the military, security, and economic fronts.
And after today, we can now say that the U.S.-UAE bilateral relationship will be strengthened on the development front, too.
Strengthening the U.S.-UAE bilateral relationship
This is USAID’s first MOU with a Gulf nation, and we are very proud of that.
We recognize that over the last few years, the UAE has stepped up dramatically as a major donor of development and humanitarian assistance within the international community.
As we know, the Emirates have donated hundreds of millions of dollars annually towards important and much-needed projects in energy, economic infrastructure, humanitarian support, and cultural preservation.
In its work, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has been a natural ally to USAID, and this MOU will encourage greater collaboration and coordination between our two development agencies throughout the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
This moment is driven by a broader movement to bring countries in this region closer together.
And so, as we are discussing shared priorities, I also want to acknowledge and thank His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his commitment to tolerance and the hard work of peacemaking.
Everywhere in this region you can see the rich mosaic of faiths and cultures that began here. And yet, forces of fanaticism would like to wipe that heritage away. For example, Daesh, the so-called Islamic State, sought to destroy the historic religious and cultural landmarks of Mosul. But in the spirit of tolerance, and with real respect for the ancient faiths that made a home in this region, the Emirates have begun to rebuild those sites.
This is precisely the spirit of tolerance at work—a spirit that the Emirates will champion for this region’s prosperity.
After years of stalemate, Israel—the Jewish state—and the Arab world are coming together. This is yet another area where the UAE has demonstrated its leadership. And with the news last week, I’m thrilled to say that Sudan has now joined the UAE and Bahrain in building meaningful bonds of friendship, respect, and lasting peace with Israel. These ties will benefit Israelis, Emiratis, Bahrainis, Sudanese, and millions more in the Arab world and beyond.
The Abraham Accords that enshrine this new relationship will unleash the full potential of millions of people who had previously not been able to share ideas, place phone calls, or visit one another. This partnership between the U.S., UAE, and Israel will enable us to address the accumulating global demand for world-class development aid and humanitarian assistance.
This new spirit of cooperation can be seen most clearly in today’s MOU, which follows a similar agreement USAID’s former Administrator Mark Green reached with the Government of Israel’s development organization, MASHAV. It will set the stage for even greater partnership between the UAE and the United States to achieve real results for the world’s most vulnerable people.
America is proud to be taking a leading role in bringing together the nations of the Middle East in friendship and partnership. Through this work, we hope to see not only new bonds of humanity but all the dreams of peace realized.
This is what’s possible when nations work together and trust one another.
And it is the goal of the American people to see the nations of this region find a path of cooperation and peace.
Thank you for your work towards this great cause. And thank you for supporting the goal of development and peace.
Thank you. Shukran.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Speech delivered virtually from U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi)