16 May

Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, attended a meeting with several Houston, Texas public officials, including Mayor Sylvester Turner. During this meeting, the group discussed, among other topics, what the UAE could do to help the city in its recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

In 2017, the government of the UAE granted Houston $10 million to help with rebuilding, with the embassy, in particular, hoping to assist further. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba spent the meeting discussing the natural disaster with those in the city, hoping to better understand the scope and scale of Hurricane Harvey to better plan assistance.

Additionally, other UAE leaders met with Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba later in the day to celebrate the official opening of the Houston UAE Consulate, which will hopefully facilitate more immediate and understanding help in rebuilding. From the UAE, the Minister of Energy, Minister of State, and Consul General in Houston all attended a ribbon cutting ceremony alongside local Houston city council member Amanda Edwards.

The group attended a reception following the initial ceremony, hosted by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and the others also spent time with patients receiving treatment at the cancer center, focusing on those with UAE origins.

The entire day demonstrated the alliance between Houston and the United Arab Emirates, with Consul General Saeed Al Mehairi emphasizing the bond between the city and his home country, adding, “The Consulate in Houston is a testament to our commitment to Houston and the local community.”

This is far from the first time the UAE has pitched in to help the United States after a disaster. For several years, the UAE has helped the US endure and rebuild after several major tragedies. For example, when the 2013 Jopin, Missouri tornado swept through the city, the UAE’s embassy called to offer their help, eventually assisting in rebuilding the city with a focus on the school system.

As such, Hurricane Harvey is only one of the latest natural disasters for which the UAE has come to America’s aid. It likely won’t be the last, either.