For years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been diversifying its strategic partnerships to create alternatives for its international alliances that would offer the country more policy options at both regional and global levels. This diversification would also better serve the UAE’s objectives and interests. Furthermore, this strategy was part of the UAE’s power-building endeavor. One of the most important elements in this strategy was to “head east”; i.e., expand and deepen alliances with major and influential Asian powers, most notably China, India, Japan and South Korea.
In parallel with the UAE’s “heading east” strategy, these Asian powers themselves sought to include the Gulf region in their strategic vision as rising powers. Therefore, these countries started to launch initiatives in the region, in general, and the UAE, in particular, because it is a leading country in the region through its economic model and political dynamics.
Now, after years of cooperation and partnership strategies between the UAE and major Asian powers, there is a need to explore new prospects for these strategies and put them in a framework that takes into consideration new shifts in the Gulf and Asian regional systems, as well as, shifts in the international order.
To this end, the Emirates Policy Center (EPC) in partnership with Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in India, convenes a symposium to shed light on future strategic tracks for relations between the UAE and Asian powers in four major sessions:
The first session deals with the future potential for cooperation with Asia in the field of building a security architecture for the Gulf in light of a decline in Washington’s role in the region and the emergence of aspirations by Asian powers to play a bigger role in enhancing regional security and stability, especially with a rise in the economic interests of Asian powers in the region.
The second session tackles the nature and mechanism of Asian-Gulf connectivity. One of the most important mechanisms is the development of trade, maritime and air corridors. In recent years, there has been a leap in the number of maritime and air transportation lines between the two sides, as well as, a number of cooperation agreements to enhance links between their airports and seaports. There is no doubt that the Chinese “One Belt, One Road Initiative” will boost connectivity between Asia and Gulf regions through maritime and land corridors.
The third session discusses the scope of UAE-India/Asia collaborations in the science, cyber space and digital domains as Asian countries are building competitive capabilities in these fields. In addition, the UAE has signed a number of agreements with Asian countries for cooperation in these fields.
The fourth session touches upon how to respond to the changing nature of global economics in light of a growing trend for protectionism, signs of a trade war between the US, on one side, and European and Asian economies, especially China, on the other, and ways to face geo-economic challenges that might rise in the short term.
This symposium is a platform for dialogue and exchanging points of view between the Emirati and Asian sides. The symposium gathers intellectuals and political and economic elites from the UAE and Asia, especially India, China, Japan and South Korea.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.