Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba
His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States of America, took up his Washington-based post in July 2008.
In this role, Ambassador Al Otaiba enhanced UAE-US relations and improved bilateral security and economic cooperation. In addition to leading efforts that increased military, intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries, he also played a critical role to facilitate the landmark US-UAE 123 Agreement for Peaceful Civilian Nuclear Energy Cooperation, which came into force in 2009.
He also works closely with his counterparts in government and with business leaders to promote greater UAE and US economic and trade ties. Since becoming Ambassador, bilateral trade increased over 70 percent, solidifying the UAE’s position as the US’ largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa. UAE investments in the US expanded, and prominent US healthcare, education and cultural institutions, such as Cleveland Clinic, New York University and the Guggenheim, established new UAE branches. In addition, the UAE and US governments established a formal Economic Policy Dialogue and cooperated on ways to streamline travel for Emirati nationals between the two countries.
Ambassador Al Otaiba has also led the UAE’s significant commitment to philanthropic activities in the US. The program is predicated on preserving and advancing the strong friendship between the UAE and the United States. In 2009, he facilitated a transformational gift from the Government of Abu Dhabi to launch the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and personally assists Children’s National with its fundraising efforts. The Ambassador has also led the UAE’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in the US, emphasizing the importance of diplomacy, healthcare policy and the UAE’s commitment to protecting the public from the spread of COVID-19. Through innovative community partnerships, the UAE Embassy has already constructed eleven soccer fields around the US to benefit kids in underserved communities. The Community Soccer program will expand further in the coming years.
Under the Ambassador’s leadership, the UAE Embassy also provided assistance to aid in the reconstruction and recovery of US communities following natural disasters, including providing significant aid to the states of New Jersey and New York following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and helping Joplin, Missouri recover after one of the largest tornados ever recorded in US history devastated the town.
Ambassador Al Otaiba also dedicates a great deal of time to promoting inclusion and religious tolerance worldwide. On behalf of the UAE Embassy, he supported 2019's “Year of Tolerance,” a UAE movement to encourage peace, respect and acceptance across all cultures and backgrounds. Ambassador Al Otaiba joined the Board of Directors for the Special Olympics and played a key role in the initiative to host the World Games in Abu Dhabi, the first Special Olympics World Games held in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to advocating for people of determination, his leadership directed the UAE Embassy towards a number of interfaith efforts including a virtual interfaith discussion. In February 2019, he supported Pope Francis’ historic visit to the UAE to promote interfaith cooperation and foster peace and goodwill among the followers of the world’s religions.
Previously, Ambassador Al Otaiba served for eight years as the Director of International Affairs for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The focus of his portfolio during this time was the strengthening of the UAE’s security and economic relations throughout the Middle East region, with the US and other nations. He served as one of the UAE’s principal security, anti-terrorism and defense liaisons to other governments, and was heavily involved in diplomatic efforts to improve regional security and defense cooperation. These efforts included working to enhance UAE enforcement of export control laws and policies, and the coordination of counter-proliferation activities with allies.
In recognition of his loyal service to the UAE, and leadership to build closer ties with the US, Ambassador Al Otaiba was promoted to the rank of Minister in October 2017. He will remain in his current role as the UAE’s Ambassador to the US.
Ambassador Al Otaiba obtained a degree in international relations from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, after graduating from the Cairo American College. He also attended the Industrial College of the US Armed Forces at the National Defense University in Washington, DC as an International Fellow.
He and his wife Abeer Al Otaiba have two children.
Articles by Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba
During his appointment, Ambassador Al Otaiba has written many articles, op-eds, and letters to the editor about the UAE’s mission, strategic initiatives, and collaborations with the US:
- Annexation will be a serious setback for better relations with the Arab world (Hebrew version), Ynetnews, June 12, 2020
- A Successful Mideast Nuclear Deal, Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2020
- Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi is a sign of progress, CNN, March 14, 2019
- Why We Invited the Pope to the Arabian Peninsula, Politico Magazine, February 2, 2019
- The UAE has made progress toward being a model for positive change in the Middle East, Washington Post, December 7, 2018
- The Arab coalition is making progress against extremists in Yemen, Washington Post, September 12, 2018
- The United Arab Emirates and the Taliban, New York Times, August 9, 2017
- Qatar Cannot Have It Both Ways, Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2017
- On Women's Day, The UAE Ambassador To The US Writes An Open Letter To His Daughter, Harper’s Bazaar, March 8, 2017
- The Gulf States Are Ready for Peaceful Coexistence—if Iran Is, Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2017
- Why tolerance has a place in Islam and the Middle East, CNN, November 16, 2016
- UAE Ambassador: Fifteen years after 9/11 it is Arabs who have the most at stake, Fox News, September 10, 2016
- One Year After the Iran Nuclear Deal, Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2016
- A Vision for a Moderate, Modern Muslim World, Foreign Policy, December 2, 2015
- The Asia Pivot Needs a Firm Footing in the Middle East, Foreign Policy, March 26, 2015
- The Moderate Middle East Must Act, Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2014
- The Dispute Over a Persian Gulf Island, New York Times, May 8, 2012