France opens first military base in oil-rich Persian Gulf

France opened its first overseas military base since the end of colonialism in the United Arab Emirates. It is also France's first military base in the oil-rich Persian Gulf and the first foreign military installation built by France for 50 years and its first ever base outside French or African soil. The base is called "Peace Camp", just to make sure you think it's got nothing to do with the military. The base will host 500 troops.
The move sends a signal to Iran that France is determined to isolate it.
Sarkozy went in person to the UAE to open the base. The base and his visit seek to raise France's commercial profile in the Emirates, the world's third-largest oil exporter, and win key defence contracts and nuclear energy deals. The UAE is already a faithful buyer of French arms – now Sarkozy is pressuring its leadership to sign a €6bn to €8bn deal to purchase French Rafale fighter jets, which are yet to find a foreign buyer anywhere in the world. He also wants to secure French contracts for two major civil nuclear reactors in the region. But in both cases deals are far from being signed and there is heavy competition from the US.
But this is not all, as "cultural" links are also in the plans: Sarkozy also officially launched the opening of building works on the Louvre Abu Dhabi, an unprecedented project to build a museum and loan works from French museums to the Gulf state. The museum, competing with a neighbouring Guggenheim outpost, is expected to be finished in 2012 or 2013. The Sorbonne university has already cemented Gulf links and France is heavily investing in cultural initiatives on French language-teaching in the region.