December 6, 2021
UAE’s top national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan met in Tehran with President Ebrahim Raisi and national security chief Ali Shamkhani.
The Iranian government’s news website IRNA reported that Shamkhani told Tahnoon, “warm and friendly ties with neighbors as well as sharing economic, trade and investment potentials are the most important priority for the Islamic Republic in its foreign policy.”
Shamkhani in a veiled reference to the United States said that regional countries can cooperate to ward off “interventionist policies” by powers from outside the region.
Iran’s national security advisor called for mutual efforts with the United Arab Emirates to “end some military and security crises” that have caused hardship for the peoples of the region. He added, “Talks and mutual understanding should replace a military approach to solve differences.”
Later, President Ebrahim Raisi in his meeting with Sheikh Tahnoon reiterated the same positions, and also warning of Israel’s influence in Arab countries, in a veiled reference to full relations between the UAE and Tehran’s arch-enemy in the region.
“The Zionists in the region pursue their evil plans and wherever they can find a foothold, they try to use it as a tool for expansion and sedition, therefore, regional countries should be careful,” Raisi said.
The United Arab Emirates and its ally Saudi Arabia have been fighting Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen since 2015. They also backed opposing sides in the Syrian civil war. The Sunni Gulf states see Iran’s aggressive regional policies, including arming and financing militant networks as a serious threat to their security.
IRNA says that Tahnoon in turn told Shamkhani Iran as a large and powerful country has a unique geopolitical position in the region and expanding “warm and brotherly ties” between Abu Dhabi and Tehran is a top priority for the UAE.
IRNA also quoted Tahnoon as saying that the two countries have significant potential for economic cooperation in transit, energy, health care and investments. He added, “It is necessary to form expert taskforces to pinpoint areas of cooperation in various economic fields.”
Iran has been using Dubai as a key outlet to international markets often referring to it as a one-stop-shop that could provide goods to Iran from a variety of Asian and other countries. Iranian trade and tourism has somewhat declined in recent years both because of cold relations between the two countries and also because of US sanctions reducing Iran’s economic interactions overall.
Many Iranian merchants maintain offices in Dubai where they have residence and business permits. Many Iranians also own real estate in Dubai and foreign-based satellite televisions constantly advertise properties in the UAE Iranians can buy with little or no legal restrictions.
Iran and Saudi Arabia also held talks earlier this year to reduce tensions, but Saudis have described the talks as exploratory, without any breakthroughs. No new meetings have been announced. Abu Dhabi has said that it will keep Riyadh and other allied abreast of it talks with Tehran.