Pretoria – The recent visit by President Jacob Zuma to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has further cemented the strong bond of friendship and strategic bilateral relations between the two countries.
The President arrived back in the country on Tuesday after his successful visit, which included several high level visits and trade and economic interactions.
“We are particularly pleased that this working visit has further enhanced political and economic relations between our two countries, in particular in the commercial, trade and investment sectors, as well as people-to-people and cultural interaction, including the promotion of South Africa as a top tourism destination for visitors from the Gulf region,” said President Zuma said on Tuesday.
The President held official talks with Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The meeting afforded the President an opportunity to outline the state of the South African economy, with a focus on the promotion of the country’s infrastructure development priorities in accordance with the National Development Plan (NDP) and UAE involvement in this respect.
The official talks also presented an opportunity to exchange views on recent political developments in the Middle East, the Middle East Peace Process, as well as the threat of global terrorism and extremism, the Presidency said.
SA an investment destination
Both leaders agreed to work towards considering South Africa as a strategic partner on the African continent and a preferred investment destination and primary trade partner.
They will further expand cooperation to take advantage of opportunities of the Ocean Economy, promote the export of South African agricultural products, agro-processed, manufactured products and particularly defence procurement and partnerships.
President Zuma also met with business leaders in Dubai where he emphasised the importance of creating a platform to enhance Business-to-Business cooperation in order to increase South African exports to the UAE market and attract UAE investors to South Africa.
“There are a number of South African companies that are investing in Dubai and are performing very well. UAE companies are also interested in investing more in South Africa.
“We therefore agreed that South African and UAE companies should increase their interaction and activities. South African companies indicated that they are keen to invest in areas in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, where we believe they could contribute to the growth of these sectors,” said President Zuma.
He further encouraged the business to invest more in major projects underway in South Africa such as renewable energy projects agriculture; mineral beneficiation; and the ocean economy.
SA, UAE relationship
South Africa and the UAE have maintained a strong bilateral relationship since formal diplomatic ties were first established in 1994.
“Our relationship has a strong economic focus, and the UAE has become our main importing partner within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” said the President.
Total trade momentum between the two countries rose from R13 billion in 2011 to R27 billion in 2015. By 2015, a total of 14 FDI projects from the UAE were recorded representing almost R3 billion.
During his visit, President Zuma was accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, and Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.