Queen Maxima’s foreign visits → Oman and the United Arab Emirates, 2009
After a relatively quiet 2008, Maxima and Willem Alexander kicked off their overseas visits of 2009 in January with a visit to the Middle East. The royals of Oman and the UAE pulled out all the stops for their guests and arranged several meetings between the two families: they had dinner with the Sultan of Oman, met with Sheika Salama and Sheikha Fatima in Abu Dhabi, and Princess Haya (daughter of the late King of Jordan and wife of the Emir of Dubai) held a meeting with Maxima too. The rest of the visit was designed to highlight areas of cooperation between the Netherlands and the Middle East. They visited the International port of Sohar, a joint initiative between the Dutch port city of Rotterdam and Oman and visited the International Maritime College which is also supported by Rotterdam. They saw how the Dutch embassy supports charitable initiatives in the area, including a job readiness program for women in Muscat. And they learned about collaborations between institutions such as the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council and the Netherlands Architecture Institute. Of course, there is always time for relaxation and Maxima and Willem Alexander made a journey to the desert where they rode on camels and the soon to be king smoked a hookah pipe!