A senior United Arab Emirates minister arriving in New Zealand tomorrow has an unlikely connection to the Labour Government.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Foreign Minister, will meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Justice Minister Andrew Little in Wellington.

Little said today that his father Bill was close to Sheikh Abdullah's father, and he re-connected with the family during a visit to the region last year.

"My father worked with his father in 1955 to prevent the Saudis basically pilfering large tracts of land with oil deposits," he said.

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The discussions are likely to focus on the Trade Expo in Dubai in 2020, where New Zealand will shows off its goods and services at a $50 million pavilion. Photo / 123RF
The discussions are likely to focus on the Trade Expo in Dubai in 2020, where New Zealand will shows off its goods and services at a $50 million pavilion. Photo / 123RF

"He was an officer in the British Army and he was sent there for this role of supervising what was then known as the Trucial States near Oman.

"It was an observer role but he had to engage with the local communities … and the big issue was the way to stake a claim and exploit the oil deposits there."

Little said his father had even written an unpublished book about his connection to Sheikh Abdullah's family, and he planned to present the manuscript to him tomorrow.

The discussions are likely to focus on the Trade Expo in Dubai in 2020, where New Zealand will shows off its goods and services at a $50 million pavilion.

New Zealand is also seeking a fair trade deal with the Gulf states, but there is not expected to be any progress on that during Sheikh Abdullah's visit.

Trade Minister David Parker said the deal was being held up by disagreements between some of the Gulf countries and Qatar, which he did not expect be resolved quickly.

The UAE is New Zealand's 10th-largest export destination.