Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed dozens of cooperation and investment agreements worth billions of dollars on Wednesday, after a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ).
MBZ’s arrival in Ankara, the first in years, came as the two countries work to mend frayed ties, and it symbolized a turning point that heralds a new era after yearslong rift.
Erdoğan and MBZ oversaw the signing of almost a dozen cooperation agreements, including in technology, energy, trade and environment, as well as deals allowing direct investments and cooperation between the two countries’ stock exchanges and central banks.
The agreements highlight the countries’ pivot toward partnership and will to repair relations and boost economic ties.
It was MBZ's was first official trip to Turkey since 2012, and the highest-level visit by an Emirati official in recent years.
The crown prince’s brother who is the UAE national security advisor, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited Turkey in August as the first major step toward mending strained ties.
Erdoğan said after his meeting with Sheikh Tahnoun in August that he expected increased investments from the UAE in Turkey.
Turkey’s trade and finance ministers visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Tuesday, a visit that further helped set the stage for Wednesday’s top-level meeting.
The memorandums of understanding were signed between the Abu Dhabi Development Holding (ADQ), Turkish Wealth Fund (TVF) and the Turkish Presidency Investment Office, as well as with some Turkish companies.
The crown prince said he had “fruitful” talks with Erdoğan on strengthening bilateral ties.
“I look forward to exploring new cooperation opportunities to benefit our two nations and advance our mutual development goals,” he said on Twitter.
ADQ signed an accord on investing in Turkish technology firms and establishing a technology-oriented fund, while Abu Dhabi Ports signed a deal on port and logistics cooperation.
A deal between ADQ and Turkish company Kalyon on energy and infrastructure, another with CCN Group on health cooperation and a third with Turkey’s Presidency Investment Office on renewable energy were also among the agreements, a Turkish official told Reuters.
“Problems with the UAE are now behind us. We are entering a period based fully on cooperation and mutual benefit,” said another official familiar with preparations for Wednesday’s visit, and added the UAE investment would ultimately be in the billions of dollars.
The UAE has also allocated a $10 billion fund to support mainly strategic investments in Turkey, the chairperson of ADQ announced.
The fund will focus on strategic investments, including in the energy and health sectors.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said he would visit Abu Dhabi in December and that the two countries held “very constructive” talks.
The Turkish and Emirati central banks also signed a cooperation agreement Wednesday.
Earlier, two sources said the central banks were holding talks about a potential swap agreement. The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) has previously sought swap deals with other countries as a source of hard currency to build reserves and support the Turkish lira.
It has swap agreements worth $6 billion with China, $15 billion with Qatar and $2 billion with South Korea, for a total of $23 billion.
Turkey said in September it was in talks with the UAE over investments in energy such as power generation. The UAE, whose sovereign wealth funds have made significant investments in Turkish online grocer Getir and e-commerce platform Trendyol, has said it seeks deeper economic ties with Ankara.
Ahead of the visit, one source familiar with the preparations for MBZ’s visit stated that there has been an increasing Emirati interest in Turkish defense companies, which have established lucrative opportunities with domestic production capabilities in recent years.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and other Emirati companies are also reportedly interested in health care, fintech targets and other industries in Turkey.
The two countries have seen their ties affected by regional tensions, including the conflict in Libya, where the UAE and Turkey have backed opposing sides in recent years.
Turkey last year accused the UAE of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and several other countries criticized Turkey’s military actions.
Relations hit an all-time low when Erdoğan said that Ankara could suspend diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi administration after the UAE-Israel deal.
Turkey also sided with Qatar in a Gulf dispute, putting it at odds with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while Turkish support last year helped Libya’s United Nations-backed government in Tripoli drive back UAE-supported forces trying to seize the capital.
Turkey is also engaged in an effort to mend frayed ties with regional powers, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.