UAE Foreign Policy and Association of Energy Sources

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In the period that preceded the discovery of oil in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country was relying on crop growing, cattle rearing, aquaculture, and seafaring. However, this situation changed with the discovery of oil about five decades ago. The last 40 years have seen the country shift from a slow subsistent economy to a robust industrial hub that is recognized as a key policymaker for the Gulf region. Besides influencing the geopolitics of the Middle East, the UAE is also actively involved in world politics. Economically, the UAE controls a considerable portion of world trade, particularly regarding tourism and the aviation industry. For example, the Emirates airline is ranked as one of the best carriers in the world. From the above illustrations, it is clear that the production of oil and other energy sources in the UAE helps to strengthen and direct the country’s foreign policy and security.

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The history of the UAE’s economy is often described in phases, namely, before and after the discovery of oil deposits. In the earlier era, the UAE was a country inhabited by Bedouins, a community that engaged in cultivation and livestock keeping, mainly camels and goats. Besides, the region would trade with Europeans even during those times. Trade was made easy by the proximity of the country to the sea. A sudden change in the second phase of the UAE’s history was ushered when oil fields were discovered in 1966. Within three years, the first batch of oil had been exported, thus marking the beginning of a prosperous era for the small Gulf nation. The 1970s and 1980s saw more oil fields discovered in other regions such as Rashed and Falah (Sulaymān, 2007). The dawn of 1991 marked the country’s peak in oil production. During the same year, an average of 410 000 gallons were being produced every day (Sgouridis, Griffiths, Kennedy, Khalid, & Zurita, 2013). Today, about 68 million barrels of petroleum are produced annually, thus making the UAE one of the largest oil producers by volume in the world.

Oil is an important resource in today’s world. Industries and automobiles among others rely on petroleum products for their existence. As such, the process of exploring and producing oil creates business activity across many industries. In countries where the energy sector is highly advanced, the oil industry is vastly interconnected with other sectors to the extent of resulting in ripple effects across the entire economy. Besides oil, the UAE has vast deposits of natural gas. The country is the sixth largest producer of natural gas (Dargin, 2014). The two natural energy resources give the nation an enormous economic power in the region (Energy Conference, 2007). In turn, this economic power informs how the country relates with its neighbors. Sgouridis et al. (2013) explain how the UAE’s vast wealth enables the country to direct foreign relations in the Gulf region.

The discovery of oil in the UAE facilitated a rapid growth of the country’s economy. Specifically, the sharp rise in oil prices in 1973 positioned the UAE for economic prosperity. Presently, a third of the UAE’s economy thrives on the export of oil and natural gas. Revenue realized from energy is then diversified to other sectors of the economy. Diversification is done in the realization that the oil and gas deposits may run out (Al‐Suwaidi, 2011). Interestingly, the UAE’s oil and gas deposits have not shown signs of declining. On the contrary, the country’s production has continued to increase every year. This trend is welcome given that oil and gas are the major pillars of the country’s economy.

A robust economy makes the UAE a force to reckon with in the Gulf region. Since 2011, the nation has shown a willingness to influence the geopolitics of the Middle East. According to Almezaini (2012), this move has been made possible by the UAE’s colossal financial resources coupled with military capability. More recently, the UAE has been viewed as taking over from Saudi Arabia as the trendsetter regarding the Middle East politics. Such a view is supported by the UAE’s direct involvement in resolving conflicts in the region, as opposed to taking a back stage. To illustrate this point, the UAE has dispatched its air force in the recent past to assist in operations that target to eliminate Daesh (ISIS). In addition, the country has offered military assistance to the Egyptian army in fighting extremist groups at the Sinai Peninsula. Further, the UAE was cited as having been largely involved in the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood reign, instead, helping Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to rise to power (Dorsey, 2014). This issue raises the question:

Does the production of oil and other energy sources in the UAE strengthen and direct the country’s foreign policy and security?

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The proposed study will seek to address the UAE’s emerging prominence in the Middle East and the world with respect to its control of a sizeable portion of the world oil and natural gas trade. Hence, the researcher seeks to argue that oil and other natural energy resources are central to the UAE’s strengthening position on the international stage, as well as in advancing the nation’s security.

Keywords

Several keywords and/or terms are central to this research since they will be used to locate previous research on the current subject. Subsequently, the researcher will isolate studies that are relevant to the current research and rely on them for the purposes of building and analyzing the current subject. The words/terms include:

Oil/natural gas: These two resources are the most common forms of natural energy sources in the UAE. As such, they form the key energy sources under discussion in this study.

Arab Spring/Arab Awakening: These events marked a wave of protests and demonstrations witnessed in the Middle East and North Africa beginning 2010

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MENA: This English acronym denotes the Middle East and North Africa region. It constitutes the area within which the UAE’s influence is dominant.

Daesh: The Arabic acronym for the terror group, ISIS

Economic Diversification: The UAE reinvests revenue obtained from oil in other sectors of the economy. This plan is aimed at attaining economy security by avoiding overreliance on oil and gas.

The UAE: The research is based on the UAE. As such, it forms a key search word. Nevertheless, this term is not a limitation in terms of the context regarding similar research conducted elsewhere.

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: The two Emirates are sometimes used to imply the larger UAE. In addition, they are the main producers of oil and gas in the country.

Summary, Importance, and Viewpoints

From the above discussion, it is clear that the UAE’s involvement in regional and global politics has undergone a major shift in recent times. As opposed to the past where the country preferred to take a back seat, the UAE now takes the front row on matters concerning security and regional policy. It is often argued that the “Arab Spring” was the major trigger that propelled the powerful Gulf nation into active involvement in the region’s policy (Rieger, 2012). More precisely, the successful ousting of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak by the Muslim Brotherhood was not received well by the Abu Dhabi administration. As Bahgat (2015) argues, the Gulf nations view the stability of Egypt as reflecting their situation. Thus, the collapse of Mubarak’s regime brought forth a period of instability in these countries.

Several studies have documented the UAE’s rising prominence, including how it is changing the geopolitical scenario of the Middle East. To begin with, Bahgat (2015) explains that the UAE has channeled billions of dollars into the Egyptian economy to foster the stability of the country. Bahgat (2015) goes ahead to connect this financial assistance with the UAE’s prosperous trading of petroleum. Similarly, Aly and Monem (2014) opine that the UAE’s financial assistance has been instrumental in helping to strengthen Al-Sisi’s regime and the Egyptian economy. Indeed, of all the Middle East nations, the UAE contributed the largest assistance (at least $ 4.9 billion) to the Egyptian economy (Aly & Monem, 2014).

According to Dorsey (2014), the UAE’s direct involvement in securing Sisi’s stability is not without the desire for it (UAE) to promote its interests. A clear illustration of the UAE’s motivation can be deciphered from its rivalry with Qatar over the same issue. While Qatar backed the Muslim Brotherhood, the UAE supported Al-Sisi (Dorsey, 2014). This case could have reflected the rivalry for regional prominence between the two countries. The UAE’s animosity toward Qatar has intensified in the recent times in the wake of assertions that the latter country could be aiding terrorism. As Dorsey (2014) asserts, “the UAE is waging its proxy war against the backdrop of its adoption of a more activist foreign policy that aims to counter political Islam” (p. 2). The UAE is a known crusader against extremist Islamic views that may serve to rattle foreign investors in the country (Almezaini, 2012). Thus, with Al-Sisi’s regime prevailing over the Muslim Brotherhood, the UAE’s validity as the new leader of the Gulf region has been confirmed.

Barthel and Vignal (2014) argue that the UAE’s foreign policy is a reflection of the country’s economic interests. As such, the country’s alliances are designed to help in securing reliable long-term buyers of its oil and gas (Barthel & Vignal, 2014). Additionally, the UAE is interested in attracting investors into the country. To achieve this goal, the security of the Gulf region is an important aspect. As Kamrava (2012) argues, the UAE’s dedication to promoting the security of the Gulf region is primarily a strategy to secure itself, both economically and in terms of security. The Middle East has always been riddled with conflict, sometimes forcing the UAE to intervene (Almezaini, 2012). For instance, when Iraq attacked Kuwait in 1991, the UAE did not hesitate to send military assistance to the aid of Kuwait (Kamrava, 2012). By sending a military envoy to Kuwait, the UAE was sending a message that it would defend its territory and people with military power if provoked.

Study Plan

Activity No. Activity Action Plan Completion Date
Examining of all research materials Finalize reading then make notes to direct the researcher on the course of the proposed study. Completed
Hand in the study plan Finalize the initial readings to isolate the existing research on the subject of the current study. In turn, this step will assist in preparing the study plan. Important readings studied include:
Almezaini, K. S. (2012). The UAE and foreign policy: Foreign aid, identities and interests. London, England: Routledge.
Aly, S., & Monem, A. (2014). Deciphering Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: President of Egypt’s third republic.
Bahgat, G. (2015). Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring: What lies ahead? Conflict Trends, 5(1), 3-9.
Dargin, J. (2014). Oil production and consumption: Strategies for the UAE. Abu Dhabi, UAE: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.
Dorsey, J. (2014). Gulf proxy war: UAE seeks to further damage Qatar’s already tarnished image. Daily News Egypt, 2(10), 2014.
Energy Conference. (2007). Gulf oil and gas: Ensuring economic security.
Sulaymān, A. (2007). The petroleum experience of Abu Dhabi.Abu Dhabi, UAE: The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.
Hand in the study plan
Submit a draft of the research proposal plus the annotated bibliography March 13: Obtain and review feedback regarding the study plan. Subject to the confirmation by the supervisor, researcher to proceed by conducting a web-based search for relevant studies on the subject using the earlier discussed keywords
In addition to the studies introduced at the planning stage (step 2 above), the researcher will read additional studies to uncover more details that are relevant to this study. The studies include:
Almezaini, K. S. (2012). The UAE and foreign policy: Foreign aid, identities and interests. London, England: Routledge.
Al‐Suwaidi, A. (2011). The United Arab Emirates at 40: A balance sheet. Middle East Policy, 18(4), 44-58.
Barthel, P. A., & Vignal, L. (2014). Arab Mediterranean megaprojects after the ‘spring’: Business as usual or a new beginning? Built Environment, 40(1), 52-71.
Kamrava, M. (2012). The Arab spring and the Saudi-led counterrevolution. Orbis, 56(1), 96-104.
Rieger, R. (2012). In search of stability: Saudi Arabia and the Arab spring. 
Sgouridis, S., Griffiths, S., Kennedy, S., Khalid, A., & Zurita, N. (2013). A sustainable energy transition strategy for the United Arab Emirates: Evaluation of options using an Integrated Energy Model. Energy Strategy Reviews, 2(1), 8-18.
Mark and isolate researches that are relevant and key to the current study
Submit the draft proposal together with annotated bibliography for peer review
Modifications to be made according to feedback after peer review
March 13-March 27, 2017
Present the draft research project March 28: Present draft research project to the supervisor
April 5: Read selected research materials in detail
Write a draft research paper
Read, correct, and then resubmit
March 27- April 5, 2017
Attending presentations on research projects The researcher prepares his or her presentation.
Attending at least eight other presentations
April 15, 2017
Subject to the availability of time
Obtain feedback from supervisor, discuss the feedback with the supervisor, and make the necessary modification to the research project. May 1: Engage supervisor on the feedback.
May 2-9: Make the necessary changes based on feedback from the supervisor
May 10: Submit the final paper for marking.
May 1-10, 2017

References

Almezaini, K. S. (2012). The UAE and foreign policy: Foreign aid, identities and interests. London, England: Routledge.

Al‐Suwaidi, A. (2011). The United Arab Emirates at 40: A balance sheet. Middle East Policy, 18(4), 44-58.

Aly, S., & Monem, A. (2014). Deciphering Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: President of Egypt’s third republic. Web.

Bahgat, G. (2015). Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring: What lies ahead? Conflict Trends, 5(1), 3-9.

Barthel, P. A., & Vignal, L. (2014). Arab Mediterranean megaprojects after the ‘spring’: Business as usual or a new beginning? Built Environment, 40(1), 52-71.

Dargin, J. (2014). Oil production and consumption: Strategies for the UAE. Abu Dhabi, UAE: Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.

Dorsey, J. (2014). Gulf proxy war: UAE seeks to further damage Qatar’s already tarnished image. Daily News Egypt, 2(10), 2014.

Energy Conference. (2007). Gulf oil and gas: Ensuring economic security. Web.

Kamrava, M. (2012). The Arab spring and the Saudi-led counterrevolution. Orbis, 56(1), 96-104.

Rieger, R. (2012). In search of stability: Saudi Arabia and the Arab spring. Web.

Sgouridis, S., Griffiths, S., Kennedy, S., Khalid, A., & Zurita, N. (2013). A sustainable energy transition strategy for the United Arab Emirates: Evaluation of options using an Integrated Energy Model. Energy Strategy Reviews, 2(1), 8-18.

Sulaymān, A. (2007). The petroleum experience of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi, UAE: The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.

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DemoEssays. 2022. "UAE Foreign Policy and Association of Energy Sources." August 29, 2022. https://demoessays.com/uae-foreign-policy-and-association-of-energy-sources/.

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DemoEssays. "UAE Foreign Policy and Association of Energy Sources." August 29, 2022. https://demoessays.com/uae-foreign-policy-and-association-of-energy-sources/.