The United Arab Emirates has emerged as a “pivotal” trade and investment partner for the African continent amid a “South-South” commercial revolution reshaping the global economy, a new report by a leading Washington-based think tank notes.

The report, entitled “The United Arab Emirates and Africa: a Pivotal Partnership Amid a ‘South-South’ Commercial Revolution,” chronicles and examines the multiple trade and investment linkages between the UAE and Africa, and concludes that U.S policy-makers should leverage this growing relationship to support its own stated goals of development across the African continent.

The report also concludes that the UAE has emerged as “a major commercial nexus state” of the global economy. The author of the report describes the UAE as “a state that links entire continents, states and cities via air and sea connectivity, investment and trade.” The report noted that “nexus states like the UAE can be leveraged toward broader U.S policy goals of sustainable development and job creation worldwide.”

The report was authored by Afshin Molavi, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, the think tank affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), one of the world’s leading graduate schools of international affairs.

Molavi also developed a new acronym to describe the key hub cities/countries of Asia that will be the growth drivers of the future: HUBSS. They are Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Bombay (Mumbai), Shanghai, and Singapore. “These four cities and one country – [the HUBSS] — represent the most crucial commercial and economic gateways for emerging Asia, and its links to the world,” Molavi writes. “The UAE, in particular, is best positioned to serve as the key hub between Africa and Asia.”

HUBSS – Hong Kong, UAE, Bombay, Shanghai, Singapore

The report chronicled the extensive commercial engagement of leading UAE companies with Africa, with a particular emphasis on Emirates, DP World, and Etisalat. “Emirates Airline has reshaped global aviation over the past two decades,” the report notes, and the airline has become “the most important foreign carrier in several African markets,” with direct flights to 25 African destinations. The report quotes several business executives who see Dubai as an ideal hub for doing business in Africa.

The report also noted that Dubai has emerged as a magnet for African traders: “They are using Dubai in much the same way mainland Chinese traders used Hong Kong or Singapore in the 80s and 90s: a place to trade more efficiently with the ‘mainland.’”

The report was broken into five sections:

  • The Emerging Dubai Gateway to Africa
  • The New Maritime Silk Road
  • Air Connectivity and “Chindia”-Africa ties
  • UAE Investments in Africa
  • UAE as Nexus State and Potential UAE-US-Africa Trade and Investment Triangle

In the concluding section, the author notes, “while the UAE is clearly a nexus state on the Southern Silk Road, it also has emerged as a global nexus of trade. It has become a node of connectivity linking Europe and the Americas to Asia and Africa, and vice-versa. It would be inaccurate to think of the UAE as only a South-South trade node. It has become a North-South one as well.”

The report’s publisher, the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, was established in 1980 to unite the worlds of scholarship and policy in the search for realistic answers to international issues facing the United States and the world.

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