Abdullah bin Zayed, Ethiopian President discuss bilateral relations

WAM Addis Ababa, Mar 22nd, 2013 (WAM)–Ethiopian President Ato Girma Woldegiorgis received at the presidential palace here today H. H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, who is visiting Ethiopia at the end of an African tour.

Sheikh Abdullah conveyed to the Ethiopian President the greetings of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, expressing his keenness to strengthen the ties between the UAE and Ethiopia and African countries in general.

In response, Woldegiorgis sent his regards to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, wishing him good health and expressing his hope that the UAE people would continue to enjoy welfare and prosperity.

The Ethiopian President welcomed Sheikh Abdullah and the accompanying delegation, stressing the importance of the visit in opening up new horizons for mutual cooperation and saying that he hoped it would have fruitful results in the best interest of the two friendly countries.

During the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah and Woldegiorgis reviewed bilateral cooperation and ways of strengthening UAE-Ethiopian relations in political, economic, trade, investment and tourism fields. They also exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest, especially the situation in the Horn of Africa.

Sheikh Abdullah also held separate meetings with the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tedros Adhanom, the Minister of Transport, Diriba Kuma Hey, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Abdulfetah Abdullah Hassan, and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ato Sufian Ahmed.

During the meetings, the two sides discussed bilateral relations and ways to develop economic, trade, investment, transport, aviation and labour ties.

Sheikh Abdullah stressed in his article titled: “The UAE and Ethiopia: a world of opportunities”, published by three Ethiopian newspapers: Addis Zemen, Ethiopian Herald and the Alam, that the UAE is keen to strengthen the ties with Ethiopia in the best interest of the two countries.

He added that Ethiopia’s abundant natural resources and young and talented population, make it an attractive destination for investment by UAE businesses, noting that “With over eighty ethnic groups, you are a proud and tolerant nation, open to the world.” Following is the full text of article: After having already visited two countries in Africa in the this week, I can think of no better place to end my trip than Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a crossroads, where East meets West and South meets North, and which has long been a cultural and economic melting pot. With over eighty ethnic groups, you are a proud and tolerant nation, open to the world. It is surely no coincidence that Addis Ababa was chosen as the Headquarters for the African Union and, before it, of the Organisation of African Unity.

The United Arab Emirates, (UAE), the country that I represent, shares these characteristics. Though at heart an Arab Muslim society, we have an open, tolerant society with a diverse population comprising people from all over the world, who worship freely in their churches, temples and mosques.

We have an open economy too, encouraging free trade, operating more than thirty free zones and inviting entrepreneurs from around the world to invest and innovate in the UAE. As we diversify our economy, we see the value in being a global hub, at the centre of international networks, and strengthened by competition from around the world.

These common characteristics provide an excellent opportunity for our nations to collaborate, politically, economically and culturally.

The UAE and Ethiopia already have strong links. More than one hundred thousand Ethiopian citizens live in the UAE and in 2011 our countries did nearly one billion US dollars-worth of trade. There are around one hundred UAE-registered businesses in Ethiopia. There is, I believe, considerable scope for Ethiopia to serve as a gateway through which we both can extend our partnerships throughout the region.

We want our existing links to grow. During my visit, I had the honour to meet the Ethiopian President and officials. I emphasised to them that the UAE values this relationship and wants to see it grow, for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Ethiopia’s abundant natural resources and young and talented population, make it an attractive destination for investment by UAE businesses. Ethiopia’s economic growth rate of more than ten per cent a year every year since 2003 is impressive by anyone’s standards. Visitors from the UAE have been particularly struck by the development of the critical infrastructure here, such as dry ports and airports.

This transport infrastructure is critical for encouraging tourism and investment. Millions of people transit every year through the UAE’s airspace, making use of our open sky policy. While some of these flights are from Ethiopia, we think more flights between our two countries would give a further boost to our bilateral trade and investment.

The UAE is therefore seeking agreement from the Ethiopian authorities for the UAE’s national airline, Etihad, to operate flights to Addis Ababa, so that more tourists, investors and workers can travel to and from our capital city of Abu Dhabi.

This kind of economic cooperation benefits everyone involved, and it complements our important political cooperation: the UAE was the second non-African Arab state to gain observer status in the African Union, which provides plenty of opportunities for collaboration, including in Somalia, where both Ethiopia and the UAE have been forces for stability.

Working together, the UAE and Ethiopia can make a real difference. Let us look forward to building ever-stronger relations between our countries, for the sake of the prosperity of our citizens and the stability of our common region.



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