UAE's Mohamed Bin Zayed 'an exceptional political and leadership talent': Tony Blair
Dubai - Former British PM praises Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's role in engineering the UAE's historic Abraham Accord with Israel.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has lavished praise on His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, ahead of Tuesday's historic signing of the Abraham Accord to normalise the relations between the UAE and Israel.
Blair, who has played a prominent role in facilitating the ground-breaking peace treaty by liaising with both the UAE and Israel as a former Middle East peace envoy, says that Sheikh Mohamed has turned out to be "an exceptional political and leadership talent".
In an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom newspaper, Blair provides a fascinating insight into how Sheikh Mohamed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's burgeoning relationship over the past four years helped map out the road to peace.
"Since taking over in 2005, Bin Zayed has spearheaded a process of modernisation, increased openness to the world, and tolerance in the UAE," Israel Hayom says of Sheikh Mohamed's visionary leadership.
Expanding on Sheikh Mohamed's shared vision with Netanyahu, the Israeli publication says: "What began as similar outlooks on the regional situation slowly became intertwined interests in a wide variety of fields. As a great believer in science and technology, Bin Zayed found common ground with Netanyahu on these subjects, too.
"It was not by chance that one of the five meetings in Abu Dhabi last week was devoted to space. The Emirates, believe it or not, have already sent a spacecraft to Mars."
Israel Hayom goes on to say that "Blair emphasises that two major factors were necessary to reach a breakthrough".
Blair, who served as British Prime Minister between 1997 and 2007, is quoted as saying: "Creating the political framework for such discussions. Of course there are security reasons why it is important that Israel and the Arab states cooperate. They all face the threat of extremism, whether of the Shia variety promoted by [Iran] or the Sunni variety, promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood through the spectrum of various groups. The common security threat is one essential part of the discussion."
Blair stresses that it wasn't only the danger from Iran that brought Israel and the Emirates closer together.
"The single most important thing to realise about all of this is that it's not just about security. The conversation was about the region, how it's developing, the economy, culture," he says.