The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Spain have been strengthening their relationship in recent years, beyond economic, political and cultural exchanges. In the words of the spokesperson for the UAE Embassy in Spain, Sara al-Mahri, the connection between these two countries is based on the fact that both share values such as tolerance and openness, which makes them strategic allies.
In addition to shared values, there are undeniably strong ties in the economic sphere. Since 2005, there has been a business association (Spanish Business Council) created by Spanish businessmen living in the Arab country, and as of 2019 it is recognised as the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the UAE. The Spanish Business Council brings together more than 100 Spanish companies established in the Arab country and they are quite active in organising activities of different kinds.
In the scientific and academic sphere, the year 2020 was very significant, as the Association of Spanish Scientists and Researchers in the United Arab Emirates (ACIEAU) was established. The main objective of this association is to serve as a professional network for Spanish scientists and researchers, as a meeting point in the UAE, as well as to facilitate possible scientific collaborations by improving communication between the different foundations, universities, research centres, private companies and similar institutions based both in Spain and in the Gulf country. In short, this is a great initiative to foster collaboration in both the scientific and academic fields between the two countries.
The year 2021 marks a major milestone in its history, being the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. Sara al-Mahri describes this year as "an important milestone in our fascinating journey". The UAE has also been committed in recent years to a radical modernisation and opening up of the country and has managed to "make history" by becoming the first Arab country to launch a mission to Mars.
In this context of continuous progress, Casa Árabe wanted to present the new publication of the Hesperia Culturas del Mediterráneo magazine, which on this occasion takes an in-depth look at the exciting country of the United Arab Emirates. Casa Árabe's Director General, Pedro Martínez Avial, explained that "reading just over 100 pages, the reader comes away with a fairly accurate idea of what this country is like".
The publication Hesperia has presented its 22nd issue, a special UAE issue. The magazine is divided into six main chapters; the first consists of a brief presentation that gives an overview of how the UAE has become a regional power. The second chapter, Monographic, is the most extensive, and is made up of different academic pieces that help to deepen the understanding of the Arab country, through different topics such as the empowerment of Emirati women or the 2030 Agenda and the Digital Revolution for Sustainable Development.
Ahmed Kaddour, PhD in Hispanic Philology from the Complutense University of Madrid, explained that the journal is articulated, above all, from the Monograph. "The monographs are approached from a three-dimensional point of view, to present a country from an economic, political and cultural point of view."
The magazine also features interviews with well-known personalities from both the UAE and Spain, as well as reviews that provide information on important literature on Mediterranean countries, to which must be added a section entitled 'Mundo Mediterráneo' (Mediterranean World), which deals with a wide variety of topics on Arab countries.
The 'Varia' section focuses on cultural diplomacy, Kaddour explains that "we have understood that cultural diplomacy is more important than political diplomacy, as the latter is governed by a very specific language, but cultural diplomacy can be understood from other bodies that do not necessarily have to be governmental: any social, academic, cultural dynamic/action contributes to understanding on an international level".
For his part, the director of the magazine Hesperia, Juan Martos Quesada, during the presentation of the new issue, explained that this publication arose as an initiative to analyse and provide the keys to what is happening at present. In 2005, the magazine Hesperia published its first issue, 16 years later they are presenting number 22. Quesada affirms that they decided on a more academic style for their magazine as they decided to have "more analytical articles and not so much current affairs".
The name Culturas del Mediterráneo is not insignificant either; in the words of the magazine's director, "the Mediterranean is a global laboratory, where all political and diplomatic relations also take place in the rest of the world". The aim of this magazine is to raise awareness of other cultures, as they consider knowledge to be fundamental, "it is what removes fears and prejudices". In addition to promoting cultural and social dialogue.
Martos Quesada explained that this issue focused on the United Arab Emirates came about as a result of the important geopolitical role played by the country in the region, "which nobody could have imagined", the magazine's director stressed. They believe that it is necessary to analyse how the UAE has gone from being a rather discreet country in its beginnings to being a determining regional power. He also highlighted how relations between the UAE and Spain have intensified in just a few years, as the spokesperson for the UAE Embassy in Spain also pointed out, citing the visit of former President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2011 as a turning point in the relationship between the two countries.