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The United Arab Emirates as an emerging actor in the Western Balkans: the case of strategic investment in Serbia

Bartlett, Will ORCID: 0000-0002-6775-4339, Ker-Lindsay, James, Alexander, Kristian and Prelec, Tena (2017) The United Arab Emirates as an emerging actor in the Western Balkans: the case of strategic investment in Serbia. Journal of Arabian Studies, 7 (1). pp. 94-112. ISSN 2153-4764

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Identification Number: 10.1080/21534764.2017.1322753


In recent years, the United Arab Emirates has increased its engagement on the international stage. One area where it has been increasingly active is the Western Balkans. While its aid programmes were initially directed towards Albania, it has also started to invest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. This paper focuses mainly on the last of these: UAE commercial investment in Serbia. As is shown, this activity has been focused on four key sectors: aviation, urban construction, military technology and agriculture, chosen to reflect different strategic imperatives. Whereas investments in agriculture and military technologies are part of a strategy of risk mitigation in respect of food security and military security, the investments in aviation and construction form part of a wider strategic policy of economic diversification in anticipation of the post-oil economy. Meanwhile, viewed from the Serbian perspective, these investments have not been without controversy because of their lack of transparency, allegations of corruption, and lack of public debate over plans to transform downtown Belgrade with a substantial new investment in urban regeneration. Serbia’s willingness to host strategic investment from the UAE is also surprising because of UAE support for Kosovo and claims that it has come with questionable political demands. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that UAE investments are a welcome boost to an ailing and crisis ridden economy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2017 17:28
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2024 23:12

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