About Yousef Al Otaiba
Education & Early Career
Yousef Al Otaiba grew up in Cairo, Egypt, and received a first-in-class education at Cairo American College. As a young man, he moved to the US and studied International Relations at Georgetown University (SFS ‘95), 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), and he participated in the Georgetown Leadership Seminar at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (Class of 2007).
In 2000, Yousef Al Otaiba worked directly under His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the newly elected President of the UAE, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. His achievements during this time include helping to improve UAE and regional security and stability, supporting anti-extremist and counterintelligence efforts throughout the Middle East, and building strategic partnerships between the UAE and US, as well as other countries. He also served for a short time as a non-resident ambassador to Mexico.
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 first major accomplishments Ambassador Al Otaiba brought about was the finalization of a nuclear energy agreement between the UAE and US that 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 three presidential administrations, Ambassador Al Otaiba has prioritized the development of economic ties between the two countries through trade agreements, cultural exchange, and investments in medical and educational establishments throughout the US. Through these and other efforts, the UAE has become the US’s premiere trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa.
In 2020, the Ambassador prompted international discussion after calling for Israelis to consider normalizing diplomatic relations with the UAE. His commentary garnered attention in Israel’s largest newspaper which shortly 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 terms of regional peace, security and conflict resolution.
In recognition of his excellent service as Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba was promoted to Minister of State in October 2017. Yousef is married to Abeer Al Otaiba, a former civil engineer, seasoned philanthropist, and Founder of SemSem and Al Otaiba Investments. The couple now live in Virginia with their son and daughter.
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