ABU DHABI- Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; and Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, and Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, co-chaired the ministerial meeting of the inaugural UAE-Maldives joint committee today.
During the meeting, both sides discussed a number of issues of interest to both countries, including cooperation in the fields of politics, education, culture, youth, defence, and security.
The two sides also explored ways to expand collaboration in the trade, investment, tourism, hospitality, food security and agriculture fields.
These discussions followed a series of preparatory meetings held between UAE and Maldives entities, including the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, the UAE Food and Water Security Office, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Youth, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and others, including the representatives from the private sector alongside their Maldivian counterparts.
In his remarks, Dr. Al Jaber affirmed the strength of the two countries’ bilateral relationship and underscored the growing cooperation that the UAE and Maldives have enjoyed over the years since the establishment of diplomatic relations 43 years ago.
"The UAE very much looks forward to further enhancing our already substantive political ties. In this regard, the UAE remains committed to further expand the dialogue in respect to common interests, whilst ensuring that we continue to promote development, prosperity, and stability into the future for not only our two peoples but also the broader Indian Ocean region," Al Jaber stated.
Turning to economic growth opportunities between the UAE and Maldives, with a focus on hospitality and tourism, Al Jaber remarked, "Total non-oil trade in 2019 was valued at over US$519 million, constituting a 140 per cent increase from the previous year, with scope for further expansion." Al Jaber continued by affirming the UAE’s support for the Maldives in addressing economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, noting, "The UAE remains keen to expand its investments in the Maldivian fisheries sector and to better institutionalize our ties with the Maldivian food security and agricultural sector more generally." "The UAE will provide any support necessary to aid in the Maldives’ fight against COVID-19 and the longer-term ensure that we can play a key role in facilitating the Maldivian economy’s efforts to build back better in the post-pandemic period," he added.
In his concluding remarks, Al Jaber expressed gratitude to the Maldivian side for co-chairing the meeting and underscored, "The UAE Government would like to thank the Maldives for the strong support it has provided throughout our country’s Chairship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for the 2019-2021 term, as well as for the support provided to the UAE’s candidature for the Presidency of International Criminal Police Organization for the period of 2021 to 2024 and non-permanent membership of the United Nation’s Security Council for the period of 2022 to 2023." For her part, Mariam Almheiri stressed the importance of cooperation between the UAE and the Maldives at all levels, with food security a particularly significant area of partnership given the common challenges faced by both countries relating to the sector and the desire for both to exploit modern technology to enhance their domestic agricultural capacities.
"The UAE has a clear vision to enhance its food security by ensuring a sustainability-based approach that helps to increase local production of food and achieve a degree of self-sufficiency in some essential commodities. With the implementation of AgTech there are many opportunities for the UAE, the Maldives and all countries to enhance their food security, especially those that face water shortages and a lack of arable land for crop growth. Increasing investments in this vital area is a necessity more than ever," she said.
She also praised the Maldives' plans to enhance its food security and expressed her aspiration to achieve more cooperation during the coming period in a number of files related to food security between the two countries through the UAE-Maldives Joint Committee.
For his part, Abdulla Shahid thanked the UAE for co-chairing the meeting and affirmed his government’s keenness to strengthen cooperation with the UAE, noting that the meeting enabled both sides to discuss key political and economic issues of mutual interest.
© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2021.