Emirates to inject $10 billion into Turkey

The reunion between Erdogan and Mohammed bin Zayed after a decade is a shot in the arm for Turkey's ailing economy
Mohammed bin Zayed

PHOTO/BANDAR ALGALOUD  -   Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the Emirates, visited Turkey on Wednesday for the first time in 10 years. On his arrival at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, he was met by President Erdogan accompanied by a musical band. A powerful image capable of representing the turning point that the meeting between the two leaders represents for the region after a decade of maximum rivalry.

The rapprochement between the two sides had been brewing for some months. In fact, Erdogan himself telephoned the crown prince on 31 August 'to discuss their bilateral relations'. However, it was today that the two leaders held their first face-to-face meeting since 2012. It was a fruitful meeting, especially for Turkey, as the UAE has agreed to inject 10 billion dollars into the country, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.

Erdogan and Mohammed bin Zayed have agreed on a wide-ranging investment package in the areas of energy and technology, according to Reuters. Abu Dhabi's investment fund, Abu Dhabi Development Holding (ADQ), concluded an agreement on banking, healthcare, port and logistics cooperation, as well as heavy investment in infrastructure with the Turkish Wealth Fund (TVF), the Turkish Presidential Investment Office and local companies.

A cross-cutting investment plan, focused on technology and energy funds, which would leave behind the disputes that have monopolised their relations. Moreover, the economic injection gives the Turkish president oxygen at a delicate moment for the Islamist leader, just when the lira is plummeting, inflation is advancing by leaps and bounds and he is facing new protests against his government. And it benefits the Emirati roadmap.

Erdogan y Mohammed bin Zayed
REUTERS/UMIT BEKTASALTAN  -  Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L) shakes hands with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in this file photo, 28 February 2012

Emirati and Turkish interests have diverged. In one way or another, the two sides ended up finding themselves in different factions in each and every regional conflict, with Libya being the scenario that best exemplifies their disagreements. Since the outbreak of the Arab Spring, both actors have competed to gain weight and influence from the Maghreb to the Horn of Africa.

But their agendas have coincided again a decade later, in a scenario marked by the hangover of the economic crisis generated by COVID-19. Erdogan did not miss the opportunity to invite the Emirati leader to Turkey and reopen a path of dialogue. The Ottoman leader is living his lowest hours in power with the lira at rock bottom, and needs foreign investment at all costs. While the UAE focuses its diplomacy on economic development and has plenty of funds to spend.

Erdogan is therefore trying to repair relations with his neighbours, especially with the Gulf states, with whom he has so far had a dispute over regional hegemony. In 2011, Ankara instigated the uprisings and promoted political Islamism in the heat of the Arab Spring. Actions that generated the rejection of Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, jealous of the stability of their regimes. Only Qatar remained as a preferred partner, but Doha lowered tensions with its neighbours at the Al-Ula summit in January.