In a surprise announcement, Syria revealed on March 18 that President Bashar al-Assad had visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This was the first visit by President Assad to an Arabian state since the outbreak of the war in Syria more than eleven years ago.
During the surprise visit, President Assad met with UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Qasr Al Shatie in Abu Dhabi.
According to a statement by the Emirates News Agency, the two leaders discussed a number of issues of interest, and emphasized on preserving the territorial integrity of Syria and the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, in addition to providing political and humanitarian support for Syria and its people to reach a peaceful solution to all the besetting challenges.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohamed stressed that Syria is a fundamental pillar of Arab security, and that the UAE is keen to strengthen cooperation with it to achieve the aspirations of the brotherly Syrian people towards stability and development,” the statement read.
President Assad also met during the visit with UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Al Marmoom Resort in Dubai.
The Syrian Arab News Agency said that the leaders discussed means to expand economic cooperation between Syria and the UAE during the meeting.
“The meeting dealt with the overall relations between the two countries and the prospects for expanding the circle of bilateral cooperation, especially at the economic, investment and commercial levels, in a way that lives up to the aspirations of the two brotherly peoples,” a statement by the stat-run news agency reads.
The UAE was among the first Arab states to boycott Syria less than a year after the beginning of the war in the country. However, in December 2018 Abu Dhabi reopened its embassy in Damascus.
The relations between the Syria and the UAE saw a major boost in November 2021, when Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdallah bin Zayed Al Nahyan paid a surprise visit to Damascus and met with President Assad.
US attempts to isolate Assad have clearly failed. Now, the relations between Syria and the UAE are at an all-time high. The cooperation between the two countries could help ease tension in the entire Middle East. While Abu Dhabi is a partner of the US and enjoys close relations with Israel, Damascus is Iran’s largest ally in the region.