DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Turkey’s red flag illuminated buildings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and flew high in a ceremony in Dubai on Tuesday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent a second day in the once adversarial country mending relations and deepening commercial ties.
The new page in UAE-Turkey relations points to a wider reset in regional strategies following a decade of strained ties and proxy wars that played out between the two countries.
The pomp and Turkish flag-waving cavalry that greeted Erdogan a day earlier for his meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and de facto leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, continued on in Dubai, which positions itself as the UAE’s globally alluring tourism and finance hub.
Erdogan was greeted by Dubai ruler and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the emirate’s multibillion-dollar Expo site to celebrate Turkish culture and history at the World’s Fair.
Visitors at Expo were given Turkey’s red and white crescent-and-star flag to wave as Erdogan toured Turkey’s pavilion following a Turkish musical performance under the fair’s main dome.
Standing before a select audience, Erdogan praised the UAE for being the first Arab country to host the World’s Fair.
It’s a stark pivot from only a year or so ago, when it was anyone’s guess whether Turkey would even have a presence at Dubai’s Expo.
The rebuilding of ties with Turkey signals a wider UAE strategy to use economic cooperation, and its oil wealth, as a main tool to recalibrate its foreign policy posture, particularly in the face of continued tensions with Iran and a new administration in Washington seeking to re-enter nuclear talks.