HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), made a two-day state visit to the United Kingdom this week at the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
With the focal event of the first day (Tuesday) being a formal state banquet at Windsor Castle, Sheikh Khalifa was first visited at his private residence at Richmond, just west of London, by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Members of the official British party escorting HH Sheikh Khalifa were introduced by the Duke of York to the President, following which HH Sheikh Khalifa and the Duke, with the UAE delegation accompanying the President and British escorts, left by car for the short journey to the outskirts of the town of Windsor.
There the President was met at midday by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at a specially-erected royal saluting platform on Datchet Road facing the imposing historic castle, which has been a royal residence for nearly 1,000 years.
The UAE President was accompanied by a high ranking delegation including Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the Emirates Group, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Ahmed Juma Al Zaabi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs, Khaldoun Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Staff Major General Eisa Saif Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Deputy Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, and Abdul Rahman Al Mutaiwee, the UAE Ambassador to the UK.
In a speech of welcome, the Queen said that she was 'delighted' to welcome Sheikh Khalifa.
“Our two countries have been close friends since before the foundation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, under the wise guidance and leadership of your late father, Sheikh Zayed,” she said.
Saying that she and her husband fondly recalled their visits to the UAE in 1979 and 2010, she added “We were struck by the warmth of the welcome we received and the generosity of Emirati culture.”
“Your visit this week is a chance to celebrate the depth of our partnership - a partnership that continues to grow and strengthen,” she added.
“This has never been truer than it is today and I am delighted with how our ties have developed, spearheaded by the UK-UAE Taskforce. And I look forward to these ties deepening as we develop our strategic partnership for the next generation.”
“Co-operation between our two nations,” the Queen continued, “now ranges from our thriving educational and tourism links, joint defence projects, security and foreign policy issues, to our increasing investment in each other's economies. The UAE is one of our largest trading partners in the Gulf region, and we have welcomed Emirati investments in the United Kingdom in many areas from the construction of the largest port facilities in the UK to the Emirates Skyline, the spectacular cable-car crossing over the (River) Thames and, of course, Manchester City.”
HH Sheikh Khalifa expressed his “very great pleasure” at joining the Queen for the occasion, thanking her “for your kindness and your most courteous invitation.”
“As the long-standing and historical relationship between our two countries continues to develop positively in all fields, I would like to express my deep gratitude for your cordial visit to the UAE in 2010, which left such a good impression on us.”
“We shall strive to further develop the long-established bilateral relations that exist between the United Arab Emirates in all fields, in order to achieve the interests of our two friendly countries,” Sheikh Khalifa said.
“Indeed, it is my hope that this current visit serves to reinforce our deep-rooted and steadfast friendship that has continued for many years.”
The governments of the UAE and Britain on Wednesday signed two memoranda of understanding on the creation of a “Dialogue of Values” and “Qualification of Frameworks”.
Source: WAM; Photo: Reuters