(Bloomberg) -- The United Arab Emirates’ de facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan heads to Turkey Wednesday on the highest level visit in years, cementing an improvement in relations that could unlock billions of dollars in trade and investment.
Business is expected to top the agenda when the Abu Dhabi crown prince meets President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, turning the page on a decade of frosty ties and hostile rhetoric that began to ease this year. The UAE’s state news agency WAM said the visit would focus bilateral relations without giving details.
Ties between the UAE and Turkey had been strained for years over the role of Islamist groups in the tumult that followed the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. The two countries supported opposing sides in Libya and have disagreed on issues including gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Sheikh Mohammed’s landmark visit follows a phone conversation between the two leaders in August, part of a broader realignment that’s seen erstwhile Middle East foes patch up differences as the U.S. rolls back its involvement in the region and re-engages with common rival Iran.
In a shift accelerated by the pandemic, the UAE has increasingly sought to step back from costly regional conflicts and refocus on the economy. Meanwhile Erdogan, whose popularity has sunk amid disenchantment over his handling of the economy, is keen to repair ties with the Gulf oil producer, potentially opening up new sources of investment.
UAE to Grow Asia, Africa Trade, Seek $150 Billion Investment
Several deals have been struck since ties improved while Abu Dhabi wealth funds have been looking for business in Turkey, scouting targets for billions of dollars in potential investments, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in September.
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