Aya Batrawy
Global Economy Correspondent

Top UAE security chief visits Turkey after years of tension

August 19, 2021 GMT

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President President Tayyip Erdogan hosted a top security official from the United Arab Emirates and said the Gulf state was looking at investing in Turkey, signaling that years of tense relations between the two nations may be on their way to easing.

The trip by UAE national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Wednesday appears to be the highest-level public visit by an Emirati official to Turkey in years. The two countries have seen their ties affected by regional tensions, including the conflict in Libya, where the UAE and Turkey have backed opposing sides in recent years.

Sheikh Tahnoun’s meeting with Erdogan reflects a wider recalibration by the UAE of its foreign policy stances following an unsuccessful attempt at isolating fellow Gulf state Qatar. Turkey rushed to support Qatar during an embargo by the UAE and three other Arab states, and Ankara deepened its military footprint in Qatar during the diplomatic dispute.


The Arab quartet at the time demanded a series of reversals by Qatar, including the expulsion of Turkish troops, but Qatar rejected the demands as violations of its sovereignty. The dispute was resolved earlier this year with an agreement signed in Saudi Arabia.

The meeting with the Emirati official is also part of a wider effort by an increasingly isolated Turkey to mend frayed ties with regional powers, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

A brief statement from Erdogan’s office after the meeting said he and Sheikh Tahnoun two discussed bilateral relations and regional issues. Erdogan said in a late night interview with Turkey’s Kanal 7 TV that they discussed possible investments from the UAE in Turkey.

“They have serious investment targets, investment plans,” the president said. “I believe that in a short period of time, the UAE will enter our country with serious investments.”

The UAE’s state-run news agency released a brief report on the meeting, saying the two sides discussed investment opportunities in the fields of transportation, health and energy.

Asked whether the visit marked the start of a thaw, Erdogan said: “It is natural for there to be ups and downs in relations...We have reached a certain stage (thanks to) our intelligence service especially, which has been holding some meetings for some months.”

He said there was a possibility he would meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the future. The crown prince is seen as the de-facto leader and the force behind the UAE’s foreign policy posture.


Abu Dhabi palace advisor Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter after the meeting that the UAE was in the process of building and restoring bridges, and strengthening relations with all.

“Differences in points of views on some issues will not stand in the way of outreach and enhancing opportunities for stability, prosperity and development,” Gargash said.

He also shared an image of Erdogan standing with Sheikh Tahnoun with his 1.3 million followers, writing that the meeting was “historic and positive”.


Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates