About Yousef Al Otaiba
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba has built his diplomatic career around helping to preserve and expand the collaborative relationship between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the U.S. As a well-known and respected diplomat in Washington, D.C., he has placed particular emphasis on furthering economic prosperity, climate action and cultural exchange between the two countries. Additionally, he has worked to improve political security and stability in the Middle East and support humanitarian relief efforts around the world.
UAE Ambassador to the US
On July 28, 2008, Yousef Al Otaiba presented his letter of credence to US President George W. Bush. One of the Ambassador’s first major accomplishments was the finalization of a nuclear energy agreement between the UAE and U.S., which was signed in December 2009. The agreement has been called the “gold standard” of nonproliferation agreements, with the UAE making voluntary commitments beyond any other country in the region.
Over the course of his tenure as UAE Ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba has prioritized the development of economic ties through trade agreements, cultural exchange and investments in medical and educational establishments throughout the U.S. His efforts to enhance bilateral ties have not only resulted in a stronger alliance between the UAE and U.S., but they have also helped to maintain the UAE’s position as America’s premiere trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
In 2020, the Ambassador prompted international discussion after calling for Israelis to consider normalizing diplomatic relations with the UAE. His commentary garnered attention in some of the largest Israeli newspapers, which led to the signing of the Abraham Accords just a few months later. This agreement marked the first time the Israelis had normalized diplomatic relations with another Arab state in over 25 years. It also marked a major milestone for the Middle East in regard to regional peace, security and conflict resolution.
In recognition of his excellent service as UAE Ambassador to the U.S., Yousef Al Otaiba was promoted to Minister of State in October 2017. Yousef is married to Abeer Al Otaiba, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of both luxury fashion line SemSem and Al Otaiba Investments. The couple resides in Virginia with their son and daughter.
Education & Early Career
Yousef Al Otaiba grew up in Cairo, Egypt, and received a first-in-class education at Cairo American College. After completing his studies in Egypt, he moved to the U.S. and studied International Relations at Georgetown University, where he also played soccer and was the 2015 recipient of the Georgetown Soccer Alumni Award. He later graduated from the Industrial College of the US Armed Forces at the National Defense University through the International Fellows program (Class of 2000) He also participated in the Georgetown Leadership Seminar at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (Class of 2007).
Yousef Al Otaiba began his diplomatic career working as the as Director of International Affairs in the court of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who now serves as the president of the UAE. His achievements during this time include assisting with the improvement of UAE and regional security and stability, supporting anti-extremist and counterintelligence efforts throughout the Middle East and building strategic partnerships between the UAE and U.S., as well as other countries. For a short time, he also served as a non-resident ambassador to Mexico.
Yousef Al Otaiba provides personal and professional support to charitable organizations and humanitarian relief efforts in the U.S. and around the world. His primary areas of focus are public health, diversity and equality through sports, as well as disaster recovery in areas affected by natural catastrophes.
Abeer and Yousef Al Otaiba have been long-time supporters of programs and institutions that promote children’s health, such as the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. In 2014, they co-chaired the Children’s Ball with Bret and Amy Baier, raising $10.9 million for the medical organization.
Boards & Councils
Awards & Recognitions
- TIME 100: The Most Influential People of 2020
- National Defense University International Fellows Hall of Fame Program
- 2016 NYU Abu Dhabi Global Leadership Award
- 2015 Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Prize in Philanthropy-Children’s National Hospital
- 2015 Georgetown Soccer Alumni Award
- 2013 Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award-World Affairs Council of Washington
- 2010 Ambassador of the Year, National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce