UNITED Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to South Africa Mahash Saeed Salem  Mahash Alhameli and Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Dr Naledi Pandor at the 25-year celebrations of diplomatic relations, in Pretoria on Tuesday.     Jacoline Schoonees
UNITED Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to South Africa Mahash Saeed Salem Mahash Alhameli and Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Dr Naledi Pandor at the 25-year celebrations of diplomatic relations, in Pretoria on Tuesday. Jacoline Schoonees

SA and UAE celebrate 25-year bond

By Val Boje Time of article published Oct 3, 2019

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Pretoria - A number of countries this year mark 25 years of formal ties with South Africa, but the special relationship with the United Arab Emirates was celebrated with a dinner on Tuesday hosted by its Ambassador Mahash Saeed Salem Mahash Alhameli and attended by Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor.

The UAE was founded in December 1971, and consists of seven city-states, best known of which to South Africans are Abu Dhabi, Dubai. The UAE’s founding father, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was born in the same year as Nelson Mandela and both have been recognised for visionary leadership.

They met in Abu Dhabi in 1995 and their friendship and fraternity paved the way for strong relations between the two countries built on mutual interest and respect, said Ambassador Alhameli.

The UAE is the biggest Arab trade partner for South Africa, with more than 200 South African companies in the Emirates, including in the construction, finance, IT and hospitality sectors.

Pandor welcomed the celebration of the partnership between the countries, saying it was laid by the ties of friendship and trust enjoyed by to two former statesmen and their shared characteristics of vision, determination and generosity and the ideal to be of service and create a better world for all.

The UAE, she said, opened itself to South Africa as a strategic export market in the Gulf Region, and total trade between the two countries which was at R500million in 1995 now stood at R44.5billion.

There had been frequent and focused high level contact between the countries and their leaders, guided by the conclusion of the SA-UAE Joint Commission.

The UAE participated in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first Investment Conference in 2018 and would attend the second one in Sandton next month, while South Africa will participate in the Dubai Expo 2020.

Future points of contact include the blue economy and tourism, with South Africa having recently waived visa requirements for ordinary passport holders from the UAE. - Val Boje

Pretoria News

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