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Crown Prince of Norway hails UAE's comprehensive cultural renaissance

posted on 12/04/2010: 837 views



Oslo - His Royal Highness Haakon of Norway, Crown Prince of Norway confirmed that the wise leadership of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan succeeded in building a modern state by all means hailing UAE's comprehensive cultural renaissance.

In an interview in his office at the Royal Palace in Oslo with Emirates News Agency "WAM" and a media delegation from the state, the Crown Prince said that " The wise leadership of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa is the main reason behind the cultural renaissance and the great achievements witnessed by the United Arab Emirates in various economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, tourist and urban development fields."

Prince Haakon will visit the country on Tuesday heading a delegation comprising a number of ministers and a group of 80 businessmen and investors. He highlighted that the policy of economic openness witnessed by the UAE qualify the country to play an influential and constructive economic role in the Gulf region and the world adding that the UAE has become one of the pivotal countries in the new economy.

Following is the complete text of interview: WAM:

WAM: This is your first official visit to the UAE, what is the purpose of the visit and what results can we expect?



Prince Haakon: Well I think that the UAE and Norway has a solid and very good relationship, and we are hoping to build on that further with the visit of this delegation. There are many sectors of course; one is petroleum, which is important, obviously to Norway, but also to the Emirates. But there are many businesses in the Emirates established by Norwegians; I believe there are 80+ businesses that include shipping, paint, telecoms, mass communication, service sector etc. In all of these I think there is quite a lot we can build on, including renewable energy, which is a very popular topic in Norway right now. We have two topics for the seminars in Dubai. One is green shipping; cost effective solutions for maritime transport. In the shipping industry they are looking to make it more environmentally friendly. The other is solutions for the future in media and mobility. In Abu Dhabi, Norway is technology partner in the maritime and petroleum sector.



WAM: With regards to petroleum, is there anything specific that his highness might be looking at, or any specific developments in the petroleum sector? Will there be any agreements made?



Prince Haakon: To be honest, I don't know whether there is going to be any agreements but hopefully there will be results and cooperation will increase. I know that Statoil is already present and hoping to incorporate more. Also, we have many other areas where I'm sure we can further build our relationship. We have quite a large business delegation accompanying us, with 80+ business leaders. It has been quite a popular delegation to be in, so there are a lot of Norwegian companies who are showing a lot of keen interest. I think many see a lot of potential in a variety of sectors, so I think there is quite a lot of talk about and develop further. In addition to that our bilateral relationship, it is very good to actually come to a country and visit personally and see how we can develop that relationship further as well.



WAM: Your highness will witness the signing of an agreement between DNV and the Municipality? What will this agreement be about?



Prince Haakon: I don't know the details of it yet, but the Trade Ministry will know about the details. DNV is a large Norwegian company that works a lot both on offshore petroleum sector and obviously with the shipping maritime sector. There is plenty of opportunity there as well.



WAM: Your Highness, as Crown Prince of Norway you will be meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and other leaders. What is your feeling about the relations between the leadership in Abu Dhabi, on a personal level as well?



Prince Haakon: I'm very much looking forward to meeting the President, His Highness and other representatives of Abu Dhabi and also Dubai. That's, I think, a very important part of developing our relationship to get to know each other a little bit better. I will also be bringing, in my delegation, the Minister of Trade and Industry, and in Abu Dhabi also the Minister of Petroleum and Energy. Also the Deputy Ministry from the Foreign Ministry will be accompanying me. I hope they will also have good meetings with their counterparts. That way we can learn more about each other and how we can cooperate further. We were also very happy to have the Crown Prince and Foreign Minister here last year. My foreign minister was there in January and it was very nice to have His Highness here for our National Day on May 17. We had dinner and I hope that we will be able to meet again now if his program permits.



WAM: Will there be any specific projects that will be discussed with the Royal family, possibly tourism, or social exchange programs?



Prince Haakon: Well business is the main focus of this visit, private business and both business sector in general but obviously other parts of our cooperation will be touched upon. I think there is good opportunity to look at other aspects. I know that there has been a lot of development when it comes to your educational system. I believe that the higher education is now 70% women, which is quite impressive. There is more and more Norwegians living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi so there is a personal relationship there as well. I'm looking forward to learning more about Masdar and everything that's being done there. That is part of, obviously, business but it's also larger than that because it's also research; it's looking at new ideas and how we can develop them to the best of the world. In that process, it's inevitable that we also focus and use resources and time that might not turn out too much and others that will grow.



WAM: Your Highness will be giving a lecture at Zayed University. What will be the topic or main message being presented?



Prince Haakon: Obviously it will be about our bilateral relationship and what the content of the trip will be; the business opportunities and other opportunities for our two countries to cooperate. I've been working on development issues for quite a few years and I'm going to talk about development and dignity and how they are related to each other. I've been working with the United Nations for the last six years on the MDG's (Millennium Development Goals). Concrete goals that focus on everything from halving extreme poverty by 2015 to general quality, health, education etc . I'm going to say a little about how that progress is going on all eight goals. We don't know how the financial crisis is really going to affect them yet because the figures are not really out, but we have clear indications that we are making progress on all goals, but unfortunately the progress is uneven. Some parts of the world the progress is really great, but other parts such parts of Sub-Sahara Africa it is a bit too slow, but even there, progress has been made. I think there is a lot of positive change and we need to keep the momentum towards 2015 and beyond.



WAM: What areas of the world are included in your plan to combat poverty?



Prince Haakon: We don't have a focus area, as such, but I've visited probably eight countries since the beginning of our cooperation, and I'm a goodwill ambassador for the UN so I am focusing on the Millennium Development Goals. I've been to Mongolia, several African countries, Latin America, Asia, so it's quite a broad scope in geography, I've covered quite a lot of ground.



WAM: Will you ask the Emirates leadership to finance some of your plans with the UN?



Prince Haakon: Well I am working with the UN so the UN will be the contact of governments. I'm focusing on how does the UN work on the ground, how effective are they, what is the best practice. For example in Sierra Leone, there is a period of drought where there is a dry season. Every year there is less rain for a couple months. Because a lot of the farmers are subsistence farmers, they live off their own land and eat what they grow. In that period they lack food and it's called the hungry season. In cooperation with the Sierra Leone government they set up cooperatives, educated the farmers on how to diversify their crops, and that way they were able to increase their yield and production so that they could put aside a little bit of money for local governance, strengthening local democracy and the way local governance works. Secondly they put aside a little money for investment in tools and machinery so they can increase their yield even more the next year. Through this they were able to get through the hungry season without lacking food. Now this does not really show up in a major scale on the GDP, because the output is just marginally larger, but for the people on the ground it means a huge difference in life quality. Now these are things that are difficult to pick up in statistics, but they are very important for people's lives in that area. So these are the stories that I try to tell and convey to a broader audience.



WAM: You will not have peace and stability under violence and poverty. Most of the Middle East are still poor and are looking for your support.



Prince Haakon: Half my point is that all of us, when we look at the statistics, feel a bit overwhelmed because there is so much poverty and so much human suffering. But if you take it down to a person-to-person level where none of us can do everything but all of us can do something, and we can start with ourselves, and I think that is a very constructive way of looking at life in general, but a lot when it comes to development issues. It is important that we continue to believe that each of us individual can make quite a bit of difference in our own way. I always emphasise in my lectures that when a person does something good for someone else, it is as valuable, even at a smaller scale. Bill Gates has a lot of resources, and that is admirable, but also a person with less resources, it's just as admirable because it's not the amount of resources, but how you use those resources as well for the good of others.



WAM: A lot of people in the Middle East still associate Oslo with the failed accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Do you hope that Oslo will play a part in that peace process in the future?



Prince Haakon: In general, Norway has been open to facilitating peace processes. In most cases we have been facilitators, and not negotiators. We've been open to bringing the parties together, but only when the parties invite us; and that has been quite a successful model in several areas where we have done that. I think Norway is always open to being a constructive partner, but these are not simple topics, they are complex and difficult, and not all the issues of the world are easy to solve, so I think Norway is inspiring to be a constructive partner.



WAM: Your Highness paid a visit, a few months ago, to the Islamic community here in Oslo. They discussed issues such as the ban on the headscarf in schools/universities. Could you tell us with regards to these issues, what support can you give them?



Prince Haakon: In Norway we no longer need to travel to see the world because the world is also in Norway. We're enriched by that as a society. There is quite a large Muslim minority in Norway from many parts of the world. But mainly from Pakistan, that's the largest group from outside of Europe, as well as from Eastern Europe and Africa. Norway is now facing the same challenge as the international community, I guess, and also most other countries. How do we deal with diversity in a constructive way, and find ways where can say ‘yes we're different, but that's actually a good thing and we do have things in common that binds us together, first of all as human beings, but secondly as Norwegians, for the people that live in Norway and are Norwegian. It is important that we have a sense of national community as well. So it's important I think that we find ways of including people into our society.



WAM: With regards to issues concerning the Muslim community, such as insulting caricatures of the Prophet and headscarf issue, will you be speaking to any of the ministries here to help these issues?



Prince Haakon: First of all Norway is a full-fledged democracy so that means I don't decide, the politicians decide on these issues and I am outside of politics in that regard. I support that we are sensible, that people are sensible and that we try to be respectful and also try to see the world from other peoples view points. But of course Norway is an open and liberal society, freedom of media expression is valued very highly, and a lot of times there are things said here that Norwegians don't like as well. But it's an ongoing debate in Norway and has been for a while, on these topics. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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