Pedro Sánchez will make a stop in Abu Dhabi as part of his visit to the United Arab Emirates to preside over Spain Day, which is celebrated on February 2 at the Expo taking place in Dubai. It is a controversial trip from the political point of view as it is a country that systematically violates human rights, but also for being the place chosen by Juan Carlos I on his departure so as not to complicate his son's task in the face of corruption scandals. But the president will not meet with the king emeritus who, according to government sources, is not invited to visit the Spanish pavilion either, despite the fact that the kingdom shelters him. With whom Sánchez will have a meeting is with the crown prince, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, one of the hosts of the former head of state during his stay in Abu Dhabi.
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Moncloa gives the utmost importance to Sánchez's trip as he wants to "re-launch" relations from an economic and political point of view with that country in which he sees great investment opportunities given the growth it is experiencing and its "openness" to the outside . And there the meeting with the "strong man" of the kingdom is framed, although in principle there will be no image of it given the privacy it requires, according to those same sources. Sánchez maintained a telephone contact with him just a month ago, which also did not come out if they addressed the relationship with the emeritus.
"No contact of the official delegation with the emeritus during this trip is planned," they say from Moncloa, where they do not expect the presence of Juan Carlos de Borbón at the Expo. Nor will Felipe VI attend the Expo, despite the fact that the presence of the Royal House is usual in this type of event. The invitation has been sent to the Government, according to Executive sources, who explain that international policy is established by the president and the Foreign Minister, in this case José Manuel Albares, and that they have chosen to give a political and economic profile to the visit given the commercial interests in that country.
"There is a custom that is almost a diplomatic norm, which is that the President of the Government and the Head of State do not travel abroad together. There is a single exception, which is the Ibero-American summits. Apart from that, the anomalous thing would be for both to travel at the same time", justified Albares in a interview in elDiario.es about the absence of the current head of state at this Expo. "The President of the Government travels very comfortably to Dubai to represent Spain on Spain Day and in a context that is one of economic recovery", he answered the question of whether Felipe VI's trip bothered the Royal House when he was there his father.
Despite the constant rumors about his return since he left Spain on August 3, 2020, the emeritus king wants to return to Spain when possible, but that he will do it when does not generate "any instability" to Felipe VI, according to journalist Carlos Herrera, who met with the emeritus this weekend in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The alleged return of the former head of state is a complex and uncomfortable matter for the Government and for Zarzuela.
Sánchez's will be the first trip by a president to the United Arab Emirates since 2003 and he intends to take advantage of the economic opportunities in that country. It is also part of Moncloa's strategy to relaunch relations with the countries in the area, which is running into an ethical dilemma due to the violations of human rights that are forgiven precisely for economic interests. In the Government they are aware of this situation, but they value the "significant effort of opening, consolidation and progress in the field of human rights" with the approval of laws to protect the rights of women and girls, for example, or their incorporation to the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council in the period 2022-2024. According to government sources, the government's objective is to create a climate of "trust" with that country to "accompany" a process of "progressive opening" similar to that of Western countries.
But Moncloa's priority on this trip is to make economic profit for Spanish companies that are in the process of awarding million-dollar projects in the Emirates, as well as obtaining investments from that oil-rich country, but which is diversifying its economy. Sánchez will be accompanied by a large business representation with the president of CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, at the head, or the head of the Spanish Chamber, as well as senior managers from Indra, Barceló, San José, Grupo TSK, Idom, Técnicas Reunidas, Airbus, Asisa, Acciona, Escribano Mechanical, Duro Felguera or Alsa, according to the Government. They will be joined by business executives with a presence in the country, including start up.
The trip will be attended by Albares and the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, as well as lower levels of those departments. Taking advantage of his presence at the Expo, Sánchez will meet with the country's prime minister to seal several memorandums of understanding. One of them has been negotiating since 2003: it is an APPRI (Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments) with which Moncloa intends to exploit this "climate of trust" between the two countries. They will also be sealed with the sovereign fund Mubadala, responsible for 230,000 million dollars, and Cofides, the state company that is in charge of financing investment projects abroad. The United Arab Emirates is the 30th client for Spain, with exports valued at 1,500 million euros, and Spain is the 16th investor there with 6,000 million euros.