Relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Japan since the 1970s have revolved around oil diplomacy. As the UAE diversifies its economy and embraces sustainability, this paper explores how the bilateral relationship has undergone a sustainability turn. It does so by assessing the logic of sustainability and the mutual interests for both parties. It is argued that the sustainability turn reflects what the UAE needs in terms of renewable technologies and skills, coupled with what Japan can provide in return for favorable oil concessions and new markets. Cases of the Japanese government mobilizing various resources and actors to address the UAE’s sustainability needs are examined to gauge how sustainability has been embedded into the bilateral relationship. The sustainability turn provides not just a fresh analytical lens but also it generates insights into policy and a new assemblage of practices and stakeholders that have emerged as part of this increasingly multilayered relationship.

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