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TRENDS continues its European tour with a Parisian Debut .. Holds a symposium with a Global outlook that discusses Gulf- French Partnership on multiple tracks

16 Apr 2024

TRENDS continues its European tour with a Parisian Debut .. Holds a symposium with a Global outlook that discusses Gulf- French Partnership on multiple tracks

16 Apr 2024


International officials, experts and researchers stressed the depth of the Gulf-French relations. They described them as deeply-rooted in history and quite multidimensional. These relations have seen important developments at various levels in recent years.

This came in an international Symposium organized by the Trends Research and Advisory as part of its European research tour in France on Gulf-European relations: opportunities and prospects for cooperation and partnership. The event was held at the Napoleon Hotel in Paris in the presence and participation of a number of French and Arab dignitaries. The participants discussed various aspects of relations between France and the Gulf Arab countries, including political, economic and cultural cooperation.

The symposium stressed the significance of GCC-French relations and the need to strengthen and develop them in various fields. The contributors recommended ways and means to enhance economic and trade cooperation, supporting the exchange of technical know-how and expertise in the field of artificial intelligence and advanced technology. They called for the promotion of cultural dialogue and exchanges between Arab and European civilizations, and strengthening the UAE-European relations as a model for effective global partnerships. The speakers indicated that this international symposium is an important step towards solidifying relations and exploring the prospects for future cooperation in various fields.


Multidimensional Relations

Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali, CEO of Trends Research and Advisory, welcomed the participants and the audience. He referred to the depth of relations between the Gulf States and France. He described these links as multidimensional and historical. Dr. Al-Ali said that these relations have witnessed significant advancements at various levels in recent years.

Dr. Al-Ali indicated that political cooperation between France and the Arab Gulf countries is characterized by the convergence of the stance of the two sides on various regional and international issues. In fact, France is seen in the Arab world as a supporter of Arab issues, while the Arab Gulf countries view France as a reliable partner in addressing the challenges facing the region.

On the economic level, the CEO of Trends explained that the Gulf-French relations have seen remarkable achievements during the past years. The total commodity imports from the GCC countries to France in 2023 amounted to $12.3 billion, while France’s commodity exports to the Gulf region amounted to $12.7 billion. Dr. Al-Ali said that the UAE is the main hub for French commodity exports to the Gulf region, with an estimated value of $5.3 billion, constituting about half of the total trade volume.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Ali stressed the strong cultural links between France and the Arab Gulf region. He referred to the growing French cultural impact in the Gulf countries in recent times, especially through the spread of the French language, the establishment of French schools and universities, and the growing number of Gulf students and tourists in France. He spoke about the opening of a branch of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi. Al-Ali concluded his remarks by stressing the wide prospects of the Gulf-French partnership in all fields, in light of the strong political will of the two sides to cultivate the common benefits.


H.E. Senator Nathalie Goulet, member of the Senate of France, lauded the UAE’s relentless efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, which led to its official removal from the “grey list” issued by the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

She stressed the depth of the bilateral relations between the two countries, describing them as “family bonds”, and referred to the role of her late father, former Senator Alain Goulet, in highlighting the enormous economic potential of the United Arab Emirates, through a report which he drafted in the 1980s for the French Senate.

Senator Goulet praised the outstanding economic achievements of the UAE over the past decades, and said the UAE has become a role model in the region and beyond. She stressed the importance of cooperation between France and the UAE in various fields. She appreciated the remarkable Francophone impact in the UAE. She said that there are more than 300,000 Francophone citizens living and working in the UAE. Mmme Goulet considered this as a conclusive evidence of the UAE’s distinguished position as a leading country with Francophone presence.


Promising prospects

Ms. Elyazia AlHosani, Head of the Media Communication Office at Trends, moderated the panel session. She referred to its four themes, namely the prospects of economic and trade partnership between the GCC States and the European Union, artificial intelligence and advanced technology as an engine for Gulf-European cooperation, cultural aspects in Gulf-European relations, and UAE-European relations as a model for effective global partnerships. She stated that there is general consensus about the growing Gulf-French relations, and the UAE-French relations in particular.


Strong Bonds and Wise Leadership

Subsequently, the symposium started with a working paper by Dr. Charles Saint-Pro, Director General of the Observatory of Geopolitical Studies (OEG), France, on the ” Prospects for Partnership and Economic and Trade Cooperation Between the GCC and the European Union.” He explained that good relations between countries require long-term friendships and this can only be done with strong and visionary leaders in the helm, as is the case now in the United Arab Emirates. He stressed the significance of partnership between regional groups to address the challenges facing the world today.

He said that partnership between our regional groups has become more necessary than ever, especially in such a turbulent world. He referred to the vital role of France and the United Arab Emirates as leaders in this respect, noting that “the two countries share similar visions, especially in the field of combating extremist organizations.” “France and the UAE have a special responsibility to move this project forward, following the legacy of General de Gaulle and Sheikh Zayed, both of whom had a vision for a new world,” he added.

Dr. Saint-Pro concluded his statement by emphasizing that loyalty in international relations is a rare value but it exists in the case of French-UAE relations. The partnership between France and the United Arab Emirates is a model for regional cooperation, because the UAE has played a pivotal role in promoting peace and tolerance in the Middle East and beyond, since the reign of the late Sheikh Zayed until now.


A Cultural partnership

Dr. Hamad Al-Kaabi, CEO of Aletihad News Center, Editor-in-Chief of Aletihad Newspaper, focused on the cultural aspects of Gulf-European relations. He explained that Europeans and Arabs have a long and rich history of cultural, economic, commercial and political exchanges. He referred to the depth of historical relations between the European Union and the League of Arab States, describing it as “a strategic partnership for a promising future of rich cultural exchanges.”

He said that France is linked to the Arab Gulf region with strong cultural bonds, which distinguishes them from relations with other partners of the Gulf region. He said that the French cultural impact in the Gulf countries has been expanding recently.

Al-Kaabi added that cultural exchanges between the two regions has enhanced mutual understanding and convergence of views, and opened new horizons for cooperation in various fields. He indicated that the European Union and the League of Arab States regularly organize various cultural events, such as festivals, held exhibitions and conferences, aimed at enhancing communication between peoples and exchanging experiences.

Al-Kaabi explained that these events promote awareness of the common cultural values shared by the two regions, especially intercultural dialogue. They facilitate bridges of communication between civilizations. He stressed the importance of investing in cultural exchanges between the European Union and the League of Arab States, because of their role in promoting mutual understanding and supporting cooperation in various fields. He stressed that the future of relations between the European Union and the League of Arab States is promising, and that cooperation between the two bodies shall promote peace, stability and prosperity in the two regions, and enhance intercultural dialogue.


Golden Opportunity

Mr. Amr Abdelrahim, Research Fellow at IFRI’s Turkey and Middle East program, France, explained in a paper on “Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology as a Driver of GCC-European Cooperation” that artificial intelligence constitutes a golden opportunity for cooperation between the GCC states and the European Union. He said that artificial intelligence has become the a major technology of interest globally, and an area of global competition, given its pivotal role in reshaping the global economic and strategic landscape.

He said that the Arab Gulf countries have a clear vision and policies in promoting investment in artificial intelligence, and this area is expected to be one of the main issues in the free trade negotiations between Europe and the GCC states.

Mr. Amr Abdel Rahim stressed that “Artificial intelligence and advanced technology can be a major driver for Gulf-European cooperation. He focused on areas of cooperation in many fields, including research and development through funding joint research projects, developing new AI technologies, exchanging knowledge and experiences, and encouraging European and Gulf companies to invest in mutual artificial intelligence projects. Moreover, he said the two sides should work together to set ethical and legal standards for the development and application of artificial intelligence technologies.


A linking Nexus

Ms. Camille Lons, Deputy Director of the Paris Office, Policy Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Program, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), France, considered the UAE-European relations as a model for effective global partnerships, and stated that the UAE looks forward to play the role of a mediator between the advanced global North (Western) and the South in a multipolar world. She said, the UAE is seeking to invest in the emergence of a multipolar world order to position itself as a key link between the West and the Global South. She explained that the UAE has emerged as a key player and credible partner for the Europeans, not only on the regional stage, but also on global issues, including transformations to green economies and investing in advanced technologies of the future. She stressed that the UAE has shown a growing ability to shape political developments in the wider MENA region, noting that the Europeans appreciate this effective role on regional issues.