France’s Camp de la Paix (Peace Camp) is the first French base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Located in the capital, Abu Dhabi, it was opened in May 2009 by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and is the first permanent French military base in a foreign territory for 50 years. It was established by France on the request of the UAE.
Camp de la Paix constitutes an air force base, an army training camp and a naval base. The military installation is called implantation militaire Française aux Émirats Arabes Unis or IMFEAU. Along with the UAE, IMFEAU will jointly train and support forces, rather than carry out actual military operations. The base also supports strategic and diplomatic relations between France and the UAE.
Camp de la Paix history
In January 1995, the UAE and France signed a strategic partnership pact for defence arrangements. France has been the leading military supplier to the Gulf state and also has nuclear cooperation deals with it.
In July 2007, France decided to build a permanent military base in the UAE. In January 2008, Sarkozy signed an agreement with the UAE to establish the base in Abu Dhabi, and Camp de la Paix was officially inaugurated on 26 May 2009. The base helps develop bilateral military cooperation between the two countries.
Peace Camp design and construction
The base is located at the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway between the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. About 40% of the world’s petroleum supplies pass through this waterway, which gives the camp its strategic importance.
Construction on the banks of the conduit began in April 2008. The French base includes a naval camp at Mina Zayed Port, an air force camp at Al Dhafra Air Base and an army training camp about 50km from Abu Dhabi.
The naval camp covers an area of 8ha with a 300m×200m quay. The base also has a 10m draught, which can accommodate the French Navy’s vessels.
The naval base provides logistics support to the French naval vessels in the region and also oil security in the Strait of Hormuz. It serves as the headquarters for the French Navy’s Indian Ocean fleet.
About 80 non-combatant personnel are permanently stationed at the camp.
Air Base 104 Al Dhafra can harbour up to six aircraft, including US Air Force (USAF) aircraft and the UAE fighter planes. Three Mirage 2000-5 jet fighters have been stationed at the base since October 2008.
The French Army training base at Camp de la Paix is involved in training and education missions. The base has a training centre, equipment and related facilities to train soldiers in desert and urban operations.
Camp de la Paix currently has about 250 IMFEAU staff: air force base (57), army base (93), naval base (72) and other military personnel (30). The joint base will eventually host about 500 IMFEAU personnel, including the army, navy and air force French troops.
Located about 32km from Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafra hosts the US, the UAE and French air forces. The air base has two runways, 13R/31L and 13L/31R, and communication facilities. The asphalt area of the runways is 3,661m x 46m. The
base is situated at 23m elevation above the mean sea level.
The Al Dhafra air base has a recreation centre with facilities such as ping pong tables, table football, pool tables and TVs. The other recreational facilities include a video check-out centre, video game stations and a library. The base also has a fitness centre, sand volleyball and basketball courts, swimming pools, a phone centre and a laundry facility. The living quarters of the personnel at Al Dhafra base have TVs and VCRs.
The naval camp also has an armoury, logistics and workshop ammunition depots, storage areas, three buildings for maintenance and a living area with 320 beds. Other facilities at the camp include a gymnasium, sports area and an infirmary.
The IMFEAU plans to increase its personnel and equipment at Camp de la Paix to enhance the training facilities and further support the Emirati troops. The future infrastructure will be funded by Abu Dhabi, with France being responsible for operations and equipment.