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People and Politics: Shared history and destiny tie UAE and Yemen

For centuries, Yemen and the people of the UAE have enjoyed a prosperous and enduring relationship.

Historically, Yemen stood as a leading civilisation in the Arab world. During the British occupation of the country that began in 1839, Emirati traders would frequent the coastal city of Aden to trade in goods and services with their neighbours.

With the rise of the Gulf states and eventual decline of Yemen’s economy following the implementation of the socialist system in 1967, the long-standing relationship between the UAE and Yemen endured the winds of change and continued.

Sheikh Zayed, Founder of the Nation, often visited Yemen, one such trip taking place a year after the establishment of the UAE in 1971.

He was received by thousands of Yemenis, who took to the streets to welcome the UAE’s first President.

He told the crowds: “The relationship between the UAE and Yemen is one of history and destiny. It constitutes an ideal model of how relations between brothers within one family should be.”

Released in the UK under the public records act, a report by British operatives in the Gulf dated 1969 advised Sheikh Zayed to refrain from giving visas to Yemenis and Iraqis. He ignored this counsel and opened the doors of the UAE to Yemenis.

A great example of how the average Yemeni feels about the UAE came when the UAE national football team played Iraq in Aden in 2011.

A prominent Emirati football writer wrote about the overwhelming support enjoyed by the UAE team.

More than 15,000 Yemeni fans flooded the stadium to show their appreciation of the UAE team.

“It felt like we were playing in Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi … the moving support received by the people of Yemen was a clear sign of their admiration for Sheikh Zayed, the UAE leadership and its people,” the reporter wrote.

So it is no surprise that the UAE is first in line to offer support to Yemen as it struggles to safeguard its people and lands from the Houthi rebellion.

Military support in the form of deployment of warplanes, training of Yemeni troops and freedom fighters, intelligence and armed personnel vehicles are matched by the humanitarian aid helping the country’s people.

With an estimated Dh485 million spent on aid to Yemen so far, the UAE is one of the strongest international supporters of the country and was also one of the first to send relief, according to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The future is still unclear in terms of the outcome of the conflict in Yemen and matters are made worse by the fact that 80 per cent of the country’s population of 25 million are in need of aid.

However, one thing is for certain – regardless of what lies ahead for the neighbours, the UAE will continue to stand by Yemen’s side.

The relationship between the UAE and Yemen has passed the test of time, having weathered numerous threatening storms, and the Houthi uprising will eventually be added to the list of difficult times that the countries have overcome together.

Dr Hasan Al Subaihi and Taryam Al Subaihi are journalists and political/social commentators. Hasan is a journalist and academic in the field of mass communications, while Taryam specialises in media and communications.

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(via The National)