Ambassador Gerard Steeghs - United Arab Emirates

The ambassador

Gerard Steeghs

Dutch ambassador in Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of the Netherlands are countries with a medium sized, highly sophisticated and outward looking economy. Politically, both countries are active and experienced players in their respective regional organizations and beyond. This similar outlook on global economic and political relations offers great possibilities for further developing like-mindedness and a deeper bilateral cooperation.


What makes the UAE of importance?

'The UAE is a country which finds itself in many ways at a global cross roads - politically, economically, financially and geographically. It is an economic power house, combining a substantial amount of traditional energy exports in Abu Dhabi with financial sector sophistication in Dubai. At the same time the UAE is also developing innovative strategies regarding renewable energy and is taking the lead on climate issues by hosting COP28 in Dubai. Politically and diplomatically the UAE plays a responsible and active role, both regionally and globally. The UAE is diplomatically connected - through resident embassies and other means - to almost every country on the planet. The UAE has translated all these natural advantages into a focused national development strategy, that since 1971 benefited its entire population. But it has also made the UAE one of the most sought after places to seek foreign residence – due to the comfort and stability of its society.'

And what about The Netherlands?

'The Netherlands is in its own way also a country at a crossroads, in this case in Northwest Europe. Big infrastructure for all means of transport (air, rail, road, sea) provide a connectivity in one of the most densely populated parts of the world. This makes The Netherlands the perfect location for transit trade to Germany, France and beyond. The Netherlands is one of the biggest agricultural exporters in the world, due to its advanced agricultural technology, domestic production and transit of fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Furthermore, The Netherlands is home to global industrial brands in electronics and the chemical industry and many other fields. Politically, The Netherlands, like the UAE, ‘punches above its weight’. As an active player on both European and global stages, The Netherlands seeks to brings countries together to constructively and collective resolve the big issues of our time Some of the priorities of Dutch foreign policy are development cooperation, water policy (also highlighted at EXPO2020), climate and human rights.'

What do the UAE and the Netherlands have to offer each other?

'Of course both countries have an intensive and long standing trade and economic relationship. The UAE plays a crucial role in the Dutch energy strategy, both for existing demand and for the energy transition (involving e.g. green hydrogen). The Netherlands offers the UAE top notch technology and expertise when it comes to food security, an area of strategic importance in the UAE. Apart from that, there are many other areas where the economic relationship is flourishing, expanding and already making history – think of Dutch dredgers creating the “Palm Tree” island in Dubai. But we also look forward to a widening and deepening relationship in diplomatic, educational and cultural directions, exemplified by frequent visits from both sides, including the visit of Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra to Abu Dhabi in February 2023, and the visit of our King and Queen to EXPO 2020, end of 2021.'

What is the Embassy’s role in all of this?

'Together with the UAE Embassy in The Hague, the Netherlands Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate-General in Dubai manage the day-to-day bilateral relationship. We help companies from both countries, assist our citizens in need, and facilitate the numerous delegations that come to the UAE for various purposes: trade, consultations, the COP 28 and many more. We also try to identify and propose new opportunities for cooperation in different areas. Economically we do this for example through PIB (Partners for International Business) programs of the Dutch government, in fields ranging from the food-water-energy nexus to green hydrogen.'

And what about human rights?

'I believe we are able to set up a good cooperation in this field. It is an area where we both are looking for the best interests of our populations and for universal and global adherence. We may not always have the same priorities or implementation, but with mutual respect and empathy we will surely be able to set up a great dialogue that brings both countries to a higher level.'

What is your expectation for the future?

'First of all I look forward to a successful hosting of COP28 by the UAE, in which the Netherlands will hopefully play an important and constructive role. For the rest I look forward to developing the concrete and promising initiatives with regard to water/food/energy and to also take the political relationship with the UAE to new heights, together with our teams in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.'