It’s a pleasure to be here today with you all, to celebrate the achievements of both Ambassador Abdulla and the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce.
Before i say a few words about our honoree, I’d like to congratulate NUSACC on its 50th anniversary.
Over the last fifty years, this great organization has served American and Arab business communities and provided an invaluable link between the Arab world and the United State.
It has the unique status of recognition from the League of Arab States, and its membership rolls include more than 50,000 companies. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the next fifty years – congratulations.
It’s a mantra that we repeat often, but we think it’s worth doing: our interests in the Middle East and North Africa are enduring, and the Administration believes this wholeheartedly.
We saw it in President Biden’s visit to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jeddah, in July of this year.
We saw it most recently in the visits of coordinator Brett McGurk and Assistant Secretary Barbara Leaf to the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain in November, and the Counselor, Derek Chollet, just this past week.
I have been pleased to be involved in the I2U2 forum, which expands our commitment from the Middle East – in the United Arab Emirates and Israel – to our partners in India and beyond.
In Bahrain, the United States has a stalwart friend and partner, nurturing an enduring relationship over decades, one that continues to grow.
The gracious hosts of NAVCENT and the Fifth Fleet, Bahrain served as a waystation for evacuees following the U.S. evacuation effort from Kabul last year; Bahrain’s assistance saved lives.
We have shared a free trade agreement with Bahrain since 2006, and U.S. exports to Bahrain are up 166% since 2005.
The United States imports essential goods from Bahrain as well, including agricultural products and mineral fuels.
Services are becoming an increasingly important sector for Bahrain, with Amazon Web Services opening in Bahrain in 2019, and Bahrain’s innovative laws regarding governance of “the cloud” to provide customers with security over their data.
But let me now turn to this year’s honoree, His Excellency Ambassador Shaikh Abdulla AlKhalifa.
Ambassador Abdulla joined us in the United States in 2017 and has since worked tirelessly to further the bilateral relationship between the United States and Bahrain.
He has been instrumental in “operationalizing” the Abraham Accords and bringing real weight and depth to the groundbreaking relationship between Israel and Bahrain.
He’s also overseen the start of regular strategic dialogues between the United States and Bahrain, which have highlighted our relationship.
In March, the Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister met with Vice President Kamala Harris and applauded Bahrain’s ascension to the Artemis Accords, which create a shared vision for facilitating the peaceful exploration of space.
I would be remiss in my position, too, as economic Under Secretary, if i did not note his engagement on bringing U.S. companies to Bahrain.
In February, Bahrain held a stone-laying ceremony for the United States trade zone project, which is envisioned as a regional hub for U.S. companies in Bahrain and the gulf market.
A renaissance man, Shaikh Abdulla is the father of five children, including triplets, and has served on the Bahrain Olympics committee and is himself a body builder.
He also has the best mustache in the Diplomatic Corps.
Please join me in congratulating him on this honor, and we can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next.
Ambassador Abdulla, congratulations!