UAE President: Our ties with Britain continue to develop positively
LONDON – UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has begun today a two-day state visit to the United Kingdom at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, attended a formal state banquet hosted in his honour by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at Windsor Castle, her residence west of London.
It was the first formal engagement of the President's state visit to the United Kingdom, which began this morning.
The banquet was attended by the delegation accompanying the UAE President and by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's consort, as well as by other members of the British royal family, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, other British ministers and senior officials.
The UAE President introduced the members of the official delegation accompanying him to Queen Elizabeth and the Duke, while guests from the British side were also introduced to the President.
In a speech of welcome, the Queen said that she was 'delighted' to welcome Sheikh Khalifa.
"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, Sheikh Zayed," she said.
Saying that she and her husband fondly recalled their visits to the UAE in 1979 and 2010, she added, "We were struck by the warmth of the welcome we received and the generosity of Emirati culture."
Queen Elizabeth went on to tell the President that "your visit this week is a chance to celebrate the depth of our partnership - a partnership that continues to grow and strengthen."
"Our two countries have been close friends since before the foundation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971," Queen Elizabeth said at the luncheon.
Among the guests was the UAE's deputy prime minister, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahayan, owner of English Premier League football club Manchester City.
The queen added: "The UAE is one of our largest trading partners in the Gulf region, and 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."
Sheikh Khalifa was sat between Queen Elizabeth and Cameron at the luncheon.
“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," he said.
The President said in his speech: "We shall strive to develop further the long-established bilateral relations that exist between the UAE and the UK in all fields."
He added that he hoped the visit would "reinforce our deep-rooted and steadfast friendship".
After lunch, Queen Elizabeth gave Sheikh Khalifa a falcon head statuette, while he gave her a five-strand pearl necklace made from natural Gulf pearls and a gold-framed family photograph.
Following the banquet and the 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.