By Maureen Okon
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday celebrated the growing cooperation with Nigeria as it marked the country’s 49th anniversary in Abuja.
Dr Fahad Al Taffaq, its Ambassador to Nigeria, while addressing guests and friends of the UAE at a ceremony to mark the National Day, said that he was excited to see the growing bilateral relations between both countries across all sectors.
“Today marks the importance of unity and coming together to celebrate our achievement in 2020 even though it has proved to be challenging for many reasons.
“I am proud to see the growing bilateral relations we enjoy with the good people of Nigeria across all sectors.
“This relationship is nurtured, developed and reinforced by the wise leadership of both friendly nations who have continued to forge strategic partnerships for prosperity of both countries.
“As of 2019, the total volume of non-oil bilateral trade between Nigeria and UAE stood at $1.4 billion, but just yesterday, Dec. 1, I, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on behalf of our respective governments, signed an MoU for the establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation.
“This huge stride will, no doubt, further expand bilateral relations between Nigeria and the UAE to wider prospects,” he said .
He added that throughout 2020, the Embassy in Abuja carried out several initiatives across several sectors that positively impacted over 32,000 Nigerians.
According to him, the initiatives ranged from sinking boreholes to providing clean water to communities and schools, distribution of food, relief items, masks and hand sanitisers to the most vulnerable communities, especially those in IDPs camps.
He said that the UAE-based charity organisation, Noor Dubai Foundation, that was launched in Katsina state in 2019, had provided eye care services, performed over 1,000 cataract surgeries, treated over 8,000 people and recruited two ophthalmologists and two optometrists.
He applauded the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan, President of UAE, and Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, for making the cooperation a reality.
In his remarks, Mr Zubairu Dada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that UAE had come a long way in achieving developmental strides with countries like Nigeria seeking to emulate its achievements.
He said that such was the reason Nigeria had maintained a very cordial relationship with the UAE.
According to him, Nigeria has maintained close ties with the UAE over a period of four decades.
“We are hoping that the relationship will be taken to another level, for the mutual benefit of all.
“The MoU signed earlier is for the promotion and diversification of the two countries in various fields such as economy, agriculture, education and Consular issues, among others,” he said.
Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, in a remark, said that the economic relationship between the two countries had progressed steadily since diplomatic relations was established.
He added that such was evidenced in the improvement of the bilateral non-oil activity between both countries and the show of both medical and conventional tourism activities.
“There is also the recent construction of the 300 mega watts renewable energy plant in Lagos by UAE.
“We have also commenced engagement with the UAE toward a potential collaboration to help boost our Small and Medium Enterprises.
“I will like to say that Nigeria is committed to working with the UAE and we are open to investment proposition to boost our trade competitiveness and to create job opportunities in the country,” he said. (NAN)