DALLAS, TX, 22nd October, 2016 (WAM)–Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the United States, visited Dallas, Texas this week to highlight the deep commercial and cultural ties between the UAE and the state of Texas, and reinforce the strength of bilateral relations between the UAE and the US.

While in Dallas, the Ambassador delivered a keynote address at the John G. Tower Centre for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. The event was co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations (DCFR).

Those in attendance included local elected officials, members of the Dallas business community, academics and students. The Ambassador delivered remarks and participated in a Q&A session moderated by Former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan.

Coming just three weeks before the American Presidential election, the Ambassador’s speech focussed on the importance of the UAE-US bilateral security relationship. Specifically, the Ambassador underscored the importance of continued US engagement with its closest allies in the region to address the most pressing security challenges, including defeating Daesh and countering radical extremism.

“While the UAE and our Gulf partners are actively taking on a broader leadership role in the region, US involvement remains indispensable to help address today’s challenges,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “Deeper US engagement with longstanding partners will not only help in confronting threats, but it will also give the US an opportunity to work with countries like the UAE to carve out a positive path forward in the Middle East,” he said.

He also reiterated the critical need for the US to work closely with its allies to address Iran’s destabilising activities in the region. “Working together, we must take concrete steps to check Iran’s aggression and make sure they are contributing to a constructive path for the region, not undermining our collective progress,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba.

Ambassador Al Otaiba also reinforced the shared US and UAE priority to confront extremism in Yemen and throughout the region. “Working together, I am fully confident in our ability to sustain this military effort. And to be clear again, the UAE is actively in this fight with boots on the ground and wings in the air. Beyond the battlefield, we must continue to intensify our collective efforts in the area of countering violent extremism,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba.

The Ambassador also stressed the need to provide hope and opportunity for the region as an effective way to counter radical ideologies. He cited a strong and dynamic economy, existing partnerships and initiatives like the UAE Space Agency and the launch of DC-based tech incubator 1776 in Dubai as examples of this positive vision for the region. “In the UAE, we are building an economic engine for the entire region, a place where the free flow of goods, services, people, investment, and ideas lifts the entire Middle East and links it to Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas,” Ambassador Al Otaiba said.

While in Dallas, Ambassador Al Otaiba also spoke to students from several different area schools. Students from The Hockaday School as well as students and teachers from surrounding high schools including Ursuline Academy, Brighter Horizons Academy, North Hills Preparatory, and Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District were also in attendance. All the participating schools are part of the Junior World Affairs Council (JWAC), an initiative by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth with the purpose to encourage students to learn about international issues through WAC programs and events.

Among US states, Texas is the second largest merchandise exporter to the UAE – exports surpassed more than US$2 billion dollars last year, growing more than 500 percent since 1999. The robust trade relationship with the UAE supports approximately 31,000 jobs across the state of Texas. Texas is also a major commercial aviation hub for the UAE. Emirates Airline, based in Dubai, flies nonstop flights to Houston and Dallas. Etihad Airways flies nonstop air service from Dallas to Abu Dhabi.

Exports from Texas make up nearly 11 percent of total US exports to the UAE. Top exports from Texas in 2014 included drilling equipment, aircraft parts, surveying equipment, and automotive exports.

WAM/Majok