The United Arab Emirate Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on Sunday that it will reinstate the UAE ambassador to Iran. The new ambassador, Saif Mohammed Al Zaabi, is expected to return to Tehran “in the coming days”.
This will be the first ambassadorial appointment by the UAE to Iran since 2016, following a strengthening connection between the states and a meeting between UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
The move is in line with UAE efforts to strengthen relations with Iran "to achieve the common interests of the two countries and the wider region", the Foreign Affairs ministry said in a statement.
The UAE has changed its approach towards the West and Iran over the last months, observers said.
Anwar Gargash, the senior diplomatic advisor the UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed, said in July that Abu Dhabi does not believe in aggressive action towards Teheran.
“We don’t intend to become enemies to any state in the region, especially Iran,” he said.
Another indication for the UAE’s changing approach towards the Arab world was during the visit of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the UAE in March, a first such visit since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011
The UAE criticized both al-Assad and his regime during the war, but relations between the countries improved over the past months.
The UAE downgraded its ties with Iran after Saudi Arabia severed its own relations with Tehran in January 2016. The move followed the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by Iranian protesters after Riyadh executed a prominent Shi'ite cleric, who was accused with crimes related to terrorism and incitement against the UAE.
Diplomatic talks were resumed in 2019 by the UAE, following an attack on Saudi oil deposits and the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Gulf states emphasized that the agreement doesn’t solve other issues like Iran’s missile programs and its aggressive policies in the Middle East.
The UAE showed concern at the prospect of Iran becoming a regional dominant power, but wanted to maintain economic relations with that country.
Saudi Arabia has also attempted to improve relations with Iran over the past year, including five meetings between senior officials. Iran announced in July that the two countries would continue talks aimed at upgrading their diplomatic relations.