ABU DHABI - Australia-UAE relations have witnessed tremendous growth since the country’s diplomatic mission was opened here in 2004, with Australian businesses growing sixfold and Australians living in the Emirates almost fourfold, Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
"Australia had a diplomatic presence in the UAE since 2004. Since then, until 2022, diplomatic relationship has deepened quite considerably. We have a larger footprint – diplomatically in Abu Dhabi and Dubai," he said.
In an exclusive interview with WAM at the Australian Ambassador’s residence in the capital, he explained that, on the economic front, the number of Australian companies in the UAE was increased six times, from 50 in 2004 to over 300 in 2022, which was a significant and diversified growth.
Diversified growth Initially Australian businesses in the UAE were focused on traditional minerals and primary products such as food etc. "We've now diversified into an enormous range of advanced technologies and education."
In education sector, Wollongong University opened the first Australian international university in Dubai and other universities followed the suit, he pointed out.
In defence sector, the relationship has grown significantly over these years, he noted.
The number of Australians living here was increased almost four times, from 4,000 in 2004 to around 15,000 in 2022. "So, all that has occurred in that timeframe," said Hurley who was sworn in as the Governor-General on 1st July 2019.
He was in Abu Dhabi to meet His Highness Sheikh Mohamed, congratulated him on being elected as President of the UAE and offered condolences on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Governor-General of Australia is representative of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth the Second. In practice, they are Australia’s Head of State and have a range of constitutional and ceremonial duties. The Governor-General is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force.
CEPA, people-to-people ties Hurley said both countries are discussing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). "A longer-term trader relationship will be beneficial to both sides. It will be a significant platform for us to build the future on."
"We will continue to build people-to-people links," he asserted. Australians living and working in the UAE are in very key positions. He thinks the people-to-people links will help develop the bilateral ties in all other areas.
"I think every time I come to the UAE, I see something new and observe something that I may have seen but haven't thought about before. You know the important thing to me is the number of women ministers in government that we run into, who are very competent across their portfolios. I think that's a good sign as a society has evolved!"
From defence chief to governor-general Prior to being Governor-General, David Hurley had a distinguished in the defence force. Later he served as the 38th Governor of New South Wales from October 2014 – May 2019.
Hurley joined the Australian Army in January 1972, graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon into the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. In a long and distinguished 42-year military career, his service culminated with his appointment as Chief of the Defence Force.
David Hurley was born in Wollongong, New South Wales in 1953. His father was an Illawarra steelworker and his mother worked in a grocery store.