Exclusive VIP Interview with H.E. Jamal Al Musharakh, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Hague, 8th April 2022.
What is it like to be an ambassador?
This is a question I believe I am being asked for the first time. I think that being an ambassador is embodying what your country stands for and what your country has provided you with as stepping stones toward becoming an ambassador. For us in the UAE, our leadership is very keen to provide the right opportunities from birth, whether it is education, opportunities for higher education, and providing the population with the skills to not only deal with future challenges but also opportunities.
The traditional view of an ambassador is that he or she is political. However, an ambassador must also be equipped to deal with a wide array of focus areas, such as cultural or economic issues. As the world’s issues have become more thematic and dynamic, so has the role of an ambassador.
Climate change, youth empowerment, and women’s empowerment are all top priorities for us in the UAE. As an ambassador, one must be adaptable to convey the country’s policy on these issues when serving abroad.
I have been appointed as Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and submitted my credentials a week ago. Today is actually the third month since I have been here, and I am looking forward to truly conveying our foreign policy in our thematic focus areas and working on them together with The Netherlands.
What are your first impressions of The Netherlands?
Since my arrival, until I presented my credentials to the King, I have been greeted with the utmost hospitality.
What are your specific experiences as the UAE’s representative in the Netherlands?
I have been here for three months, and all I can say is that I have been treated with the utmost hospitality from the moment I stepped off the plane until I presented my credentials to His Majesty the King. Indeed, I want to share the UAE experience with the Netherlands and further explain the UAE’s priorities and the commonalities we share with The Netherlands.
There are many similarities, common focus areas, and future visions, such as the focus on food security and climate change. I have also been assigned as the Commissioner-General of the UAE Pavilion at the Floriade EXPO, which will take place over the next six months. We want to tell the story of the UAE and our focus on environmental preservation and climate change. The UAE will also host Cop 28 in Abu Dhabi, and since I know that climate change is a focus topic of The Netherlands, too, we are looking forward to working together with the Netherlands.
How do you deal with cultural gaps? Can you share some of the lessons learned with our readers?
The UAE is a 50-year-old country that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. We are very up to date on world cultures because the UAE is home to over 200 nationalities. Furthermore, we have established ourselves as a regional beacon of tolerance and coexistence. For example, we have established ties with countries that we would not have been expected to establish a relationship with ten or twenty years ago. I am referring to the Abraham accords in this context and our establishment of ties with Israel almost two years ago.
We also hosted the world during Expo 2020, which allowed us to learn more about different cultures. I consider myself fortunate in that cultural differences do not exist for me as a diplomat. First and foremost, I come from a young and innovative country, and I am the UAE’s youngest Ambassador abroad. That has accustomed me to deal with different cultural gaps that may exist.
We have also learned more about other cultures through our diplomatic endeavours, such as our mission to host, The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi. That exercise was unique because it allowed us to travel around the world, including countries that we had never visited before. The ties and connections that were formed exist today, and for the future.
Do you have any advice for aspiring diplomats?
A young diplomat must have the drive and ability to nurture relationships with other countries and discover what commonalities exist, rather than the differences. Differences will always exist, but similarities will always outweigh them. When we sit down and through dialogue, we focus on universal themes, as country concerns are no longer limited to an actual border or scope. Some concerns transcend boundaries, as we have seen through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As we have seen also during the Covid pandemic, the world can indeed come together to fight battles that truly require us to join hands and forces.
It is critical to have forward-thinking approaches, as we do in the United Arab Emirates’ strategic vision for the next 50 years. It is also essential to consider how the next 50 years will look rather than how the next 50 days.
Nothing tops on-the-ground experience. The more diplomats travel to conferences, are posted abroad, and can explore beyond their comfort zone, the more likely they will become aware of cultural differences. However, as I previously stated, the UAE, as a country that hosts more than 200 nationalities, has the advantage of dealing with different cultures and growing up side by side with other cultures and religions. I believe that as the UAE, we have an advantage in that sense.
Exclusive interview by VIP Special Edition Magazine Global Mindset the Netherlands
Interviewed by Adriana Flores, Publisher, Editor and Expert in Protocol & Soft Diplomacy
Rewrite by Eric Muhia, International Studies and Diplomacy Graduate Student
Translate to Spanish by Adriana Flores and Wilfredo Pérez
Photo and video by Mick de Jong
Rights reserved by ProtocolToday
Our thanks to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in the Kingdom of the Netherlands