Bilateral relations

The bilateral relations between Finland and the United Arab Emirates have traditionally been good, even though the two countries are relatively remote geographically and culturally. Trade and economic cooperation have long been a key element of the relationship. Increasing mutual interest in further developing cooperation in different fields is reflected for example in commercial cooperation, high-level visits and tourism.

Trade and economic relations

The United Arab Emirates is Finland's second biggest export country in the Middle East. The trade between the two countries is clearly in surplus for Finland. About fifty Finnish companies have an office and some also a regional center in the country. In addition, a number of Finnish companies operate trough local agents and by visiting the country from time to time.

​​Exports to the United Arab Emirates

Finland's exports to the United Arab Emirates were at best around of 1 billion euros (2003-2005). Since then exports have steadily declined. This is mainly due to economic cycles as well as to the decrease in mobile phone exports after production shifts from Finland to countries with lower production costs. Exports to the United Arab Emirates accounted for about 0,5 percent of Finland's total exports in recent years.

Export (million )






















Finnish exports have traditionally consisted mobile phones, telephone networks, cranes, elevators and other machinery and equipment. In 2018, the largest export products were paper and cardboard products, specialty machines of various industries, other electrical machinery and equipment, plastics, iron and steel, industrial machinery and equipment, power machines and engines, telephone, radio and TV equipment, and timber and cork.

Imports to Finland from the United Arab Emirates

Imports from the United Arab Emirates to Finland have been modest - about 10 million per year and has mainly been composed of plastic and textile products. In 2018, the largest import products were electronics, textiles and food products. Finland does not buy oil or gas from the United Arab Emirates.

It is good to note that the statistics of the Finnish Customs Board do not contain all activities of Finnish companies in the region.

Import (million )






















Source: Finnish Customs Board - Foreign Trade Statistic

Finns and, Finnish language 

Approximately 1400 Finns live in the United Arab Emirates more or less permanently. In addition, every year tens of thousands of Finnish tourists visit the country, Approximately ten thousand tourists visit Finland from the United Arab Emirates each year. The number of tourits has increased in recent years. Currently there are no Finnish curriculum schools in the United Arab Emirates. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Finnish communities are organizing after school activities for children ("Finnish schools").

Agreements between Finland and the United Arab Emirates

Agreement on Economic, Industrial and Technical Cooperation (1982)

Agreement between the Republic of Finland and the United Arab Emirates for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income (1996)

Agreement Between the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Government of Finland on the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments (1996)

Air services agreement (2013)


Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Finland and the Government of the United Arab Emirates for the exchange of information relating to tax matters (2016)


In addition, several Memorandums od Understanding have been concluded between the parties.



Ministerial visits from Finland to the United Arab Emirates:

Foreign Trade Minister Jari Vilén in November 2002

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paula Lehtomäki in January 2007

Minister of the Environment Paula Lehtomäki in January 2009

Minister of Economic Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen in January 2010

Minister of Communications Suvi Lindén in May 2010

Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies in August 2010

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen in January 2011

Minister of Education Henna Virkkunen in February 2011

Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies in February 2011

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen / Minister for Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb in March 2013

Minister of Housing and Communications Krista Kiuru in March 2013

Prime Minister Susanna Huovinen in January 2015

Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn in October 2015

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka in November 2015

Minister of Education and Culture Sanni Grahn-Laasonen in October 2016

Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela in December 2016

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen in January 2017

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pirkko Mattila in January-February 2017

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pirkko Mattila in January-February 2018

Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari July 2019

Minister of Foreign Affairs July 2019


President of the Republic Martti Ahtisaari in 1996

President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö in April 2015


Ministerial visits from the United Arab Emirates to Finland:

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahya in May 2009

Minister for Energy Mohamed bin Dhaen Hamli 2010

Minister of Education Humaid Mohammad Al Qutami in September 2011

Development Minister Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi in October 2013

Minister of Social Affairs Maryam Al Roumi in September 2014

Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri in February 2015

Minister for the Environment Rashid Ahmad bin Fahad in September 2015

Minister of State, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, May 2017

In addition, several government and business delegation visits take place yearly between the countries.


The United Arab Emirates was recognized by Finland in 1972, and in 1975 countries established formal diplomatic relations.  The first Ambassador of Finland Carolus Lassila, was appointed that year. Two years later, Kai Helenius became his successor. Both Ambassadors accredited to the country from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

From 1982 onward Ambassador Pertti Ripatti was accredited to Abu Dhabi from Kuwait. Then, Esko Kunnamo served as Ambassador of Finland in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi during 1985–1989. Tero Lehtovaara was his successor. Due to the Gulf War in 1990, Ambassador Lehtovaara was forced to move to Helsinki from where he served as a roving Ambassador. Pertti Kaukonen was the last Ambassador to be accredited to Abu Dhabi from Kuwait during 1992-1997.

Finland received its first diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi in 1980. The development of trade relations in particular required an active presence in Abu Dhabi. Harri Lahti started as first Commercial Councellor and in 1984 Pekka Laitio became his successor. Rainer Wegelius then took up his duties in 1988.

Matti Pullinen became the first ambassador to Abu Dhabi in 1997. He has been followed by Risto Rekola, Raimo Anttola, Matti Lassila, Ilkka-Pekka Similä and most recently by Riitta Swan.

In 1991, the consulate  was upgraded to an Embassy, heade by the first Charge d'Affaires Alexei Lahti. Caj Söderlund served as the Chanrge d'Affaires from 1994 onwards. Matti Pullinen became the first Ambassador of Finland to the United Arab Emirats in 1997. He was succeeded by Ambassadors Risto Rekola, Raimo Anttola, Matti Lassila, Ilkka-Pekka Similä and Riitta Swan. Ambassador Riitta Swan was the first Finnish lady Ambassador to be posted in Abu Dhabi.

Today the Embassy is headed by Ambassador Marianne Nissilä who succeeded Ambassador Swan in June 2019. The Emassy hosts two other Finnish diplomats, eight locally hired staff member and also Finnish university trainees from time to time. In 1999 the Embassy movefd from Istiqlal Street to its current location on Hamdan Street. From 2003 onward the Ambassador posted in Abu Dhabi has also been accredited to Qatar and Bahrain.

The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Stockholm was accredited also to Finland until the country decided to establish an Embassy in Helsinki in 2017.​​​​