Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Blog
On July 27, UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al-Otaiba attended a brown-bag lunch with the AAI Summer Interns, to discuss relations between the US and the Gulf, and the UAE’s perspective on a changing Middle East.
Al-Otaiba told the story of his own personal development and his ascension to the ambassadorship, as well as ways in which motivated youth can get more engaged in pursuing their passions. He urged the interns to work hard, communicate their ambitions well, and keep their eye on their long-term goals.
He also discussed the strong relationship between the US and the UAE, built on shared security interests and the imperative of maintaining access to important energy reserves. He also mentioned the shared antagonism of the two countries toward Iran, and the strategic value of the UAE in countering Iranian ambitions in the Middle East.
Most of Al-Otaiba’s talk, however, focused on the role he expected the UAE to play in a changing Middle East. As revolutions continue to sweep the region, he warned that governments must adapt to the needs of their people or face the wrath of their citizenry. He applauded the changes in Egypt, even while expressing concern that the revolution may ultimately empower the wrong actors. He also spoke at length about the situation in Syria, and the UAE’s support for the uprising there. The interns engaged the ambassador on a number of pointed questions, and challenged many of his assumptions about the American political involvement in the UAE, and the region at large.