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A celebration of friendship

Mustafa Al Zarooni (reporting From London)
Filed on May 1, 2013
A celebration of friendship

It was meeting of close friends and that friendship was taken to a new level when the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was received with pomp and ceremony by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

“Your visit this week is a chance to celebrate the depth of our partnership — a partnership that continues to grow and strengthen,’’ said the British monarch, who praised the UAE’s investments in the United Kingdom.

The Queen, who later hosted a state lunch for Shaikh Khalifa, said: “Our two countries have been close friends since before the foundation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, under the wise guidance and leadership of your late father, Shaikh Zayed.’’

Among the guests were Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Our Treaty of Friendship signed in 1971 declared that the UAE and the UK would consult each other, promote educational, scientific and cultural cooperation and build close trade relations. This has never been truer than it is today and I am delighted with how our ties have developed, spearheaded by the UK-UAE Taskforce.”

The Queen said the UAE is one of Britain’s largest trading partners in the Gulf region. ‘‘We have welcomed Emirati investments in the United Kingdom in many areas from the construction of the largest port facilities in the UK to the Emirates Skyline, the spectacular cable-car crossing over the Thames and, of course, Manchester City.”

“I hope, Your Highness,” she told Shaikh Khalifa, “that as a result of this visit, our two nations will build on this historical and successful foundation and continue to work together to create a more productive and secure future.”

She proposed a toast “to His Highness the President and to the health and prosperity of the people of the United Arab Emirates”.

In response, Shaikh Khalifa expressed his “very great pleasure” at joining the Queen for the occasion, thanking her “for your kindness and your most courteous invitation.”

“As the long-standing and historical relationship between our two countries continues to develop positively in all fields, I would like to express my deep gratitude for your cordial visit to the United Arab Emirates in 2010, which left such a good impression on us.”

“We shall strive to develop further the long-established bilateral relations that exist between the United Arab Emirates in all fields, in order to achieve the interests of our two friendly countries,” Shaikh Khalifa said.

“Indeed, it is my hope that this current visit serves to reinforce our deep-rooted and steadfast friendship that has continued for many years.”

“Your Majesty,” he added, “please allow me to express once again my delight with this visit, as well as my confidence in the future prospects of the distinguished bilateral relations between our two friendly nations.”

Shaikh Khalifa then, with the guests, raised a toast to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and to the health and prosperity of the people of the United Kingdom.

Music during the banquet was provided by the band of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

A celebration of friendship (/assets/oldimages/lifa_04302013.jpg)

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, greet President Shaikh Khalifa in Windsor Castle on Tuesday. — Getty Images

Following the banquet and an exchange of gifts, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh accompanied the President to the Sovereign’s Entrance to Windsor Castle to bid him farewell.

A royal salute was sounded and the Windsor Castle Guard presented arms as the President passed. He later returned to his private residence in Richmond.

Royal reception

Earlier in the day the President was visited at his private residence at Richmond, just west of London, by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

The President was met at mid-day by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at a specially-erected royal saluting platform on Datchet Road facing the imposing historic castle, which has been a royal residence for nearly 1,000 years.

Two royal gun salutes were then fired, one of 21 guns, by the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, inside the grounds of Windsor Castle, and the other, of 41 guns, by the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the British Army, at the historic Tower of London, in central London.

The President was then introduced by the Queen to a number of local civic officials, after which the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, gave a Royal Salute and the UAE national anthem was played.

The Queen and Shaikh Khalifa, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, were then escorted to an open horse-drawn carriage for a procession through the streets of Windsor, with the Sovereign’s Escort

Other members of the UAE delegation and senior British officials followed in carriages. As the procession commenced, the UAE and British national anthems were played.

Soldiers from the Grenadier Guards and the Scots Guards, two of the most famous regiments in the British Army lined the streets in the town, which were decorated with the UAE and British flags, while townspeople and tourists watched the procession, applauding.

The carriage procession then entered Windsor Castle, coming to a halt in the Quadrangle, where a Guard of Honour of the Welsh Guards was awaiting.

The national anthems of both countries were then played again, as the Queen, the President and the Duke of Edinburgh took their places on the royal dais.

Shaikh Khalifa, accompanied by the Duke, then inspected the Guard of Honour, following which there was a ride-past by the Mounted Band of the Lifeguards, the King’s Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery and the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry.

Other members of the high-ranking delegation accompanying the President are Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Shaikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the Emirates Group, Shaikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Ahmed Juma Al Zaabi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs, Khaldoun Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Staff Major General Eisa Saif Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Deputy Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, and Abdul Rahman Al Mutaiwee, the UAE Ambassador to the UK.

On Wednesday the president will be received by British Prime Minister David Cameron and the two sides are expected to sign three agreements.

He will also visit Westminster Abbey for a short private tour along with Prince Andrew. He is to lay a wreath at its tomb of the unknown warrior.

Clarence House, the official residence of Prince Charles, the Queen’s elder son and the heir to the throne, is also part of the day’s schedule.

He is to view displays by The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, followed by a private meeting with Prince Charles to round off the visit.

Britain normally stages two state visits per year, aimed at strengthening the relationship with the visiting country.

The last state visit by a UAE head of state was in 1989.

Queen Elizabeth has made two state visits to the UAE, in 1979 and more recently in 2010.

malzarooni@khaleejtimes.com

With inputs from agencies





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