About Yousef Al Otaiba
Yousef Al Otaiba has built his diplomatic career around helping to preserve and expand the collaborative relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.
As a well-known and respected emissary in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Al Otaiba has placed particular emphasis on economic cooperation between the UAE and USA, political security and stability in the Middle East, and humanitarian efforts around the world.
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 U.S. 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 took the position of Director of International Affairs for His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. His achievements during this time include helping to improve UAE security, supporting anti-terrorism 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 United States. Through these and other efforts, the UAE has become the US’s premiere trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa.
In recognition of his excellent service as Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba was promoted to Minister of State in October 2017. He was named Ambassador of the Year in 2010 by the National U.S.–Arab Chamber of Commerce, and he received the Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award from the World Affairs Council of Washington in 2013.
Yousef is the son of Mana Al Otaiba, former president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the UAE’s very first Minister of Petroleum. After initially meeting in the UAE, he married Abeer Al Otaiba in 2010. Abeer is a former civil engineer, seasoned philanthropist, and Founder of SemSem, a fashion brand focused on women’s empowerment. The couple now live in Virginia with their son and daughter.
The Al Otaibas have been long-time supporters of programs and institutions that promote children’s health, such as the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. In 2014, they co-chaired the Children’s Ball with Bret and Amy Baier, raising $10.9 million for the medical organization. The next year, Children’s National awarded the couple the Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Prize in Philanthropy for their willingness to give back after their own personal experience at the hospital.
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