UK and United Arab Emirates agree new partnership


UK and UAE agree to a new partnership to strengthen deep and historic relations that the two countries share.

United Kingdom Prime Minister the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met in London on this week.

The leaders agreed to establish a new, ambitious Partnership for the Future between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates that will strengthen the deep and historic relations that the two countries share.

The new partnership will build on this history, and ensure that the UAE and UK are able to work closely together to tackle the shared global challenges that we face, promote prosperity and security for our citizens, tackle climate change, and expand the exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas.

The meeting was attended by UAE and UK Ministerial representatives, Ambassadors and Officials from both countries.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson meets Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the door of 10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

United Kingdom – United Arab Emirates Partnership for the Future

  • The Prime Minister congratulated the United Arab Emirates on the fiftieth anniversary of its founding in 1971. Both leaders welcomed the progress that bilateral relations have made during this time and underlined their high ambition for the future of the relationship. The UK and the UAE are committed to tackling global issues together, in friendship, and in recognition of the opportunity created by the depth of the strategic relationship between the two nations. In order to dramatically expand the breadth and depth of the bilateral relationship, the leaders agreed to establish a Partnership for the Future between the UK and UAE.
  • The Prime Minister and His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will lead this Partnership, which will consist of two central pillars: the creation of sustainable prosperity and addressing global issues. The leaders agreed to use the Partnership to create new trade, investment, and innovation dynamics, and to strengthen collaboration in areas including life sciences, energy innovation, regional issues, illicit finance, education, security, development, culture, climate, and health and food security.
  • The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates will co-chair an annual Strategic Dialogue to review and drive progress on the global issues pillar and to support their strong commitment to promoting multilateralism, and to working closely together during the UAE’s term at the UN Security Council for the period of 2022-23.


Trade, Investment, and Energy

  • The United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates share an important trade and investment relationship, with total trade of £18.6bn in 2019, and two-way investment of £13.4bn in 2019, promoting innovation, jobs and economic development in the UAE and UK. The leaders set out their ambition to expand the economic relationship further, and discussed the opportunities for economic cooperation presented by new and developing sectors including technology, education, healthcare and life sciences, and clean and renewable energy.
  • The leaders welcomed the recent steps to increase investment flows between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. In March 2021, the United Kingdom’s Office for Investment and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company signed the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP). This long-term strategic agreement will serve as the coordinated framework to guide and drive the future-focused investment relationship between the two nations. Over a five-year period, the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP) will invest across four key innovation-led sectors – technology, infrastructure, healthcare, and life sciences, and clean and renewable energy – that will support job creation in both countries, strengthen national research and development capabilities and originate new areas of investment collaboration.
  • The leaders welcomed the March announcement that saw Mubadala commit £800m to United Kingdom life sciences, alongside the United Kingdom Government’s £200m Life Sciences Investment Programme. This first sector under the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP) agreement is already driving greater collaboration between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates in life sciences research and education. Given the strong progress since March of committed and potential investments, the leaders announced the full scale of UAE’s investment commitment to the UAE-UK SIP – £10bn over the next five years – including the establishment of the Partnership’s remaining three investment priorities: energy transition, technology and infrastructure. To guide and facilitate further UK investment under the expanded remit of the UK-UAE SIP, the leaders welcomed the ongoing assistance from the British Business Bank. The leaders discussed a number of ongoing projects under the SIP framework, with plans to announce further investments in due course.
  • Acknowledging that the energy sector has been a crucial pillar in the relations between the UAE and the UK, the two leaders agreed to step up bilateral ties in the energy transition and decarbonisation, with a particular focus on renewables and new forms of energy. This collaboration would be broadened and deepened through three new potential agreements: [1] a trilateral collaboration between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Masdar and BP focusing on, among others, on co-investments and co-development of Low-carbon Hydrogen Hubs and on the creation of a decarbonised air corridor between the UK and the UAE; [2] an agreement between ADNOC and BP on co-development of Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) Hubs, Methane Emission Detection Technology, and Smart Decision Centers for performance management and operational support; and [3] a forward-looking partnership between Masdar and BP to develop, build and operate energy and mobility services in urban spaces, including clean fuels, energy efficiency, distributed renewables generation and energy storage.
  • The leaders welcomed the conclusion of the United Kingdom – Gulf Cooperation Council Joint Trade and Investment Review in June 2021 and recent progress to boost bilateral trade through removing trade barriers and facilitating economic cooperation. They agreed on the importance of continued work in sectors such as education, healthcare, and food and drink, and through the United Kingdom – United Arab Emirates Joint Economic Committee, the next meeting of which was agreed to be held during Expo 2020 in Dubai.
  • The leaders announced the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Industrial and Advanced Technologies Co-operation between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT), with a focus on Industrial policies, Supply chains resilience, Research and Innovation. The MoC highlights nine priority areas for collaboration between the two countries, including Life Sciences, Hydrogen, Space, emerging renewable energy technologies, and smart and green sustainable manufacturing which will be implemented through joint engagements between government, businesses, and academic entities.
  • The leaders also announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, investment, and standards to bring mutual benefit to both countries.
  • The UK and UAE will form a space sector joint committee to drive bilateral discussions for enhancing our scientific and commercial partnerships, to deliver economic prosperity for both nations.
  • The UK and UAE have developed stronger and closer industrial ties through collaboration in defence and security, and the growing relationship between the respective industries is built on a spirit of collaboration and partnership. This includes blossoming relationships between key UK Industry and Emirati partners, including Tawazun Economic Council and EDGE Group. The United Kingdom Defence and Security Exports Department, a part of the Department for International Trade and Tawazun Economic Council, cemented this relationship through the signing of a MoU concerning Defence Industrial Collaboration. The two leaders agreed that working together to support these emerging and future partnerships will promote prosperity whilst strengthening business opportunities for both.
  • The UK and UAE share an important strategic defence relationship. They agreed to strengthen this, particularly on capability development and defence industrial collaboration. The leaders welcomed the continuing strong ties between the UK and UAE Armed Forces. The UK looks forward to further collaboration with the UAE Presidential Guard; between our two air forces through UK participation in the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course, with UK jets from the Carrier Strike Group, and increased land exercises in the UAE.



  • With COP26 approaching, the UK and the UAE recognise that ambition on climate change, including delivering on the Paris Agreement, and keeping 1.5 degrees in reach through rapid decarbonisation is a shared priority. The UK and UAE agree that strong decisive climate action and environmental protection can be an engine for economic growth, job creation and sustainable development. Our shared ambition on climate is a central thread of the Partnership of the Future, informing much of our cooperation: mutual and sustainable investment through the Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP) into our green industries to support decarbonisation; through development partnerships to support climate resilience and adaptation in third countries; and cooperation on energy in the Joint Industrial Collaboration Framework.
  • The UK and UAE recognise that addressing these shared challenges is essential for global prosperity and climate resilient growth. The leaders welcomed the signing of a MoU on Climate Change and Environmental Cooperation which will strengthen collaboration on climate action, nature-based solutions and implementing the Paris Agreement. The partnership will focus on sharing best practice for climate neutrality, mainstreaming climate and environment within development co-operation, reducing climate risks, accelerating the low carbon transition nationally and globally, including through promoting the mandate of IRENA, mobilising access to climate finance and promoting the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), which will be formally launched at COP26. The participants will work together to deliver on our climate commitments including 1.5 degree ambition, facilitating greater action on adaptation and collaborating on pathways to decarbonised growth. Both leaders looked forward to working together to tackle these issues, including at COP26 in Glasgow later this year.

Foreign Policy, Regional Issues, Security and Defence

  • The two countries reiterated their commitment to deepening their strategic partnership on foreign policy, regional, security and defence issues. The two countries announced the launch of the UK-UAE Strategic Dialogue and held discussions in the lead up to its future inauguration. The Strategic Dialogue will drive forward collaboration in education, culture and climate change, multilateral co-operation and on security issues.
  • The Prime Minister congratulated the UAE on its election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2022-23. The UK and UAE are committed to working together on the Security Council to promote international peace and security and address the security threats that the world faces. This cooperation on the Security Council reflects the UK and UAE’s longstanding support for the United Nations and the rules based international system. The two leaders discussed the long-term strategic implications of the global recovery from COVID 19. The leaders also agreed that the UK and UAE would work together towards an open international order that is more resilient to short-term shocks and long-term challenges, through the enhancement of joint efforts across various fields in international organisations.
  • On regional issues, the two countries agreed to continue their close cooperation, including on security, development and humanitarian affairs. They emphasised the significance of the Abraham Accords in contributing to the enhancement of regional peace and security and reaffirmed the unwavering and shared commitment of the UK and UAE to continue to work together in that regard. The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on relevant UN resolutions.
  • The two leaders expressed their concerns regarding developments in Afghanistan, and affirmed their commitment to preserving regional stability and preventing the resurgence of terrorism. They also emphasised the need for the protection of the rights of Afghan women and girls and emphasised the importance that their rights are preserved. The two leaders committed to work together to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and to support refugees.
  • Both leaders agreed on increased cooperation to ensure the safety and security of maritime commerce, trade and energy routes.


  • As the world continues to face severe new waves of COVID-19 infections and the risk of new variants of concern, both leaders acknowledged the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic globally. They offered their deepest condolences for the loss of lives and expressed deepest sympathy with the families of the victims. Both leaders emphasised that global cooperation and solidarity are key to fighting the pandemic and achieving sustainable and inclusive recovery. The leaders welcomed the high level of vaccinations in the UK and UAE, and underlined their commitment to share data and exchange experience, including on genome sequencing. They agreed on the importance of supporting efforts to increase global vaccine supply, especially for multilateral vaccine initiatives like COVAX. They acknowledged the health impacts of climate change and pledged to use COP26 as a platform to demonstrate ambition to tackle them. They noted the importance of a strengthened WHO and its leading and coordinating role in the global health system.


  • COVID-19, the effects of climate change, and ongoing conflicts have exacerbated the development and humanitarian challenges faced by the world. To address these challenges, the leaders agreed to expand development and humanitarian cooperation between the UK and UAE through the establishment of a Framework for Development Cooperation. The Framework will facilitate technical knowledge exchange and identify areas for cooperation on shared thematic and geographic priorities, such as climate change, education, women’s empowerment, and development in the Horn of Africa. With COVID-19 reversing years of progress against the Sustainable Development Goals, it will help to ensure that development and humanitarian programming can adapt and mitigate against major shocks.
  • The UK and the UAE will build on our partnership on ensuring 12 years of quality education for all girls. The leaders affirmed the importance of using both diplomatic and development levers to support global implementation of the landmark joint UN Human Rights Council resolution on girls’ education, which was passed in the summer. The leaders also reiterated their support for the Global Partnership for Education and welcomed the pledges that were made by the UK and UAE at the Global Education Summit in London in July. The UK looks forward to the ReWired Summit at Dubai Expo as another key milestone on the girls’ education agenda.
  • The UK and UAE have agreed an ambitious plan for cooperation in regions of mutual interest, including the Horn of Africa. The new Framework will bring together our diplomatic and development levers effectively to promote shared security and stability priorities, and to support countries in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. A joint Ministerial Dialogue on Africa will be a key feature of this, and will help maximize the impact of our shared development and humanitarian objectives in Africa and beyond. The leaders also underlined the importance of respect for human rights in all initiatives.

Culture and Education

  • The UK and UAE have strong cultural ties and people-to-people links, and both leaders agreed to increase co-operation on areas such as cultural heritage protection, development of creative and cultural industries and exchange of best practice and expertise. The leaders announced the signing of a MoU on the Cultural Sector, this will further strengthen relations through cultural co-operation. We will work together to facilitate the implementation of international agreements such as those signed with UNESCO. A strategy board has been established to implement this work, and in commemoration of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee shared cultural activities will celebrate 50 years of friendship.
  • The leaders acknowledged the importance of education and share an ambition to strengthen education ties between their countries. Recognising the importance of building capacity and upskilling human capital in today’s changing world, the two leaders committed to identify further opportunities to collaborate in technical and vocational training, which will contribute to the knowledge economy of both countries. Government leaders also announced the “Education for the Future initiative”, a series of thought leadership seminars delivered by UK and UAE experts to address challenges and opportunities in education across a range of themes, that will be conducted in 2021 and beyond. In addition, the leaders welcomed the convening of the first event between the two countries on the value of IT/AI skills and competences in girls’ education.
  • The Prime Minister congratulated His Highness on the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebration marking 50 years of the Union, and expressed anticipation of the active participation of the UK in Expo 2020 in Dubai, which will not only commemorate the historic cultural and trade ties between the two nations, but also positively contribute to the spirit of global dialogue, innovation, peace and prosperity.

Illicit Finance

  • Both countries have launched a UK-UAE Partnership to Tackle Illicit Financial Flows. Both leaders agreed that in a global economy where money flows easily across borders, it is more important than ever that international partners work together to tackle dirty money. As two major financial centres, the leaders agreed that the UK and UAE share a common interest in and responsibility for tackling the threat of illicit finance and the financing of terrorism.
  • The first UK-UAE Partnership meeting to tackle illicit financial flows will be held in London on 17 September 2021. The co-chairs will discuss the aims of the Partnership, and the development of a joint action plan to mitigate and address shared illicit finance risks, threats, and vulnerabilities. The co-chairs will agree upon the need for the Partnership to deliver tangible operational progress against money laundering, including developing shared approaches and joint interventions. Three work streams will oversee this work: Supervision and Risk Based Approach; Countering the Financing of Terrorism; and Countering the Most Harmful Money Laundering of Mutual Concern. The meeting will include the signing of the Framework for the Partnership to Tackle Illicit Financial Flows.

Pictures by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

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