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Abdullah bin Zayed meets Belgian Foreign Minister

posted on 14/04/2013: 1446 views



Brussels: H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the UAE, has met with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs, Didier Reynders, in Brussels yesterday, as part of a visit Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed is making to a number of EU countries.

In the meeting, the UAE and Belgium discussed ways of reinforcing bilateral relations between the two countries, especially in trade and commerce. The two parties showcased outstanding opportunities and incentives provided by the two governments in order to attract more investment and expand commercial activity between them, as well as consolidate cooperation between the private sectors in both countries.

They also discussed current developments in the Middle East, as well as a number of regional and international issues of common interest related to the security of the Middle East and Europe.

The meeting was attended by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan who asserted that economic relations between the UAE and Belgium are increasing and reflects the desire of the leadership and governments of both countries to achieve a strategic partnership that affects all economic sectors and activities. Sheikh Abdullah indicated that the two countries currently enjoy many common features that enable them to start a new phase in their economic, commercial and investment partnership. This will ensure that trade and investment between the two countries increase at an even faster rate. Sulaiman Hamed Al Mazrouei, Ambassador of the UAE to Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the European Union was present at the meeting.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, signed a Memorandum Of Understanding on Political Consultations was signed between the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs of the UAE and the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade And Development Cooperation of The Kingdom of Belgium. The MoU expresses their wish to strengthen the existing bilateral relation and cooperation through establishing mechanism on political consultations, and recognises the importance of coordinating the bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common interest between the two states.

The ministers signed another Memorandum Of Understanding on Creating a Joint Committee for Cooperation between the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium. The MoU expressed their belief in strengthening the existing ties between the two countries, and their desire to build on and promote the bilateral relations in all fields seeking to meet the common goals of the two friendly countries.

H.H Sheikh Abdullah alluded to the special relationship enjoyed by the UAE and Belgium since the establishment of the Federation, as Belgium was one of the first countries to recognise the independence of the UAE and vote for its admission into the UN. The diplomatic relationship between the two countries has flourished since then, turning into a strong friendship between the leadership and into economic ties that strengthen by the day, as is obvious by the steady increase in trade between the two countries.

He went on to comment on the high rate of visitor exchange between the two countries: "Every day, the national airline of the UAE, Etihad Airways, operates at least one direct flight between Brussels, capital of the European Union, and Abu Dhabi, the major travel and business hub in the Arabian Gulf. In an average week, over 2,000 passengers board flights in either city to make the six-and-a-half hour journey across the Mediterranean. They travel for business or pleasure; and all of them enjoy Emirati hospitality on board an Etihad plane." He observed the UAE hosts more than 30 Belgian companies and that over 3,000 Belgians live in the country. In addition, close to 1,000 UAE nationals visit Belgium on a regular basis to receive healthcare. Belgium is a major European destination for the UAE, and H.H Sheikh Abdullah pointed out that last year, both countries exchanged approximately 4 billion euro worth of goods and services in mutual trade and investment, which, he commented, is a significant amount for both countries.

He also said: "The most important aspect of mutual friendship is enhancing the ease of movement between our two countries. Belgian citizens, along with most Europeans, are granted 30-day visas upon arrival to the UAE. The UAE is asking that its citizens be granted similar access to the countries of the Schengen Area, in recognition of the excellent relations between the UAE and Europe, and of the significant economic contribution of Emirati activities on the continent." Diplomatic relations between the UAE and Belgium began in 1973 with the opening of the Belgian Embassy in the UAE and the appointment of the first Belgian ambassador to the UAE in 1975. The UAE also opened an embassy in Brussels in September 1976.

Economic relations between the UAE and Belgium have been strengthened by the open nature of the Emirati economy and the flexible investment regulations that the UAE enjoys, particularly as far as free trade is concerned, as well as the ease of doing business in the country. Added to this are the many infrastructure projects under way in the UAE and its strategy of economic diversification. Belgian companies also benefit from the UAE's strategic location in terms of logistic services.

The rise of the UAE as a world-class tourist destination has ensured that more Belgian citizens visit its shores, which is a factor that assists in strengthening relations, not only in terms of developing the tourism sector, but also in terms of strengthening humanitarian and cultural relations between the Emirati and Belgian peoples. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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