Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates enjoy established and strong relations with both countries eager to find opportunities and make bigger investments in many fields of mutual interest, especially in hydrocarbons and renewable energy, says Ambassador Sultan Ahmed Ghanem Al Suwaidi.
The UAE and Cyprus have fostered friendly relations over many decades, how would you define the current bilateral relationship?
The United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Cyprus have signed a Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the two countries on 6 June 2007, thus officially establishing diplomatic relations at an ambassadorial level. Consequently, the two countries have been working towards enhancing their bilateral cooperation in many fields and areas of mutual interest to benefit both nations.
As for the current bilateral relations, it can be best defined as a strategic partnership between two friendly nations continuously growing from strength to strength. This is evident in the last visit of H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus to the UAE, during which His Excellency visited the EXPO 2020, and witnessed the signing of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, along with three very important Memoranda of Understanding concerning maritime transport, cyber security, and diplomatic training. All of which will further advance the bilateral cooperation in fields of mutual and strategic interest.
Furthermore, I would like to emphasise the strong relations between the two peoples, the Emiratis and the Cypriots, as many Cypriots are living and working in the UAE, thus contributing to the strengthening of the bilateral trade relations.
Are there significant projects between the UAE and Cyprus at the moment, and what kind of projects and cooperation would you like to see developed in the future?
One of the most important and economically vital current projects concerns the operation of DP World in Limassol Port. In 2016, the Emirati multinational company, specialising in cargo logistics, port terminal operations, maritime services and economic zones, was awarded a 25-year concession to operate the multi-purpose terminal in Limassol.
This marks the continuation of a fruitful economic and trade relationship, as I believe that both countries are eager to find opportunities and make bigger investments in many fields of mutual interest, especially in hydrocarbons and renewable energy.
In this context, forming and agreeing on a well-established organisational structure and a smooth platform to cooperate and coordinate in the future is one of the main goals as an Embassy. Our aim is to encourage and facilitate contact between the two business communities through the implementation of different activities, the organisation of relevant workshops on areas of common interest, and to build on the exchange of mutual visits from both communities.
The UAE is a prominent business hub and Cyprus is a strong international business centre and EU base for cross-border operations. What synergies and potential could be harnessed between the two jurisdictions to facilitate more trade and business?
Due to the strategic location of Cyprus and the technological advancement of the UAE, both countries offer many incentives and advantages for the furtherance of the national prosperity. At this stage, both sides at different technocratic levels, are taking into consideration, discussing and exchanging views regarding many fields of cooperation in order to further strengthen the economic and trade ties between the two countries.
Now perhaps, even more, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, the UAE will continue to promote a comprehensive vision and strategy to build a sustainable economy that ensures a thriving future for generations to come. This vision is based on the development and implementation of an ambitious economic vision for the next 50 years and the Centennial 2071, which keeps pace with the multifaceted changes of the global economy.
What kind of opportunities does Cyprus offer specifically Emirati business, and vice versa?
I think that there is always room for further cooperation, and even though as we said before, there are efforts from both sides to enhance cooperation at every level, the two countries can further work together to materialise those efforts and realise their implementation.
We all know that the transformation of the global economic landscape due to geopolitical changes, rapid technological development, market dynamics and the overall effects of Covid-19 prompted the need to review plans, government systems and work mechanisms to ensure future success.
In this context, it is important to point out that the UAE has become a global centre for clean energy in all its forms, especially hydrogen, and it is currently one of the leading countries in developing this field. The UAE’s futuristic vision targets three pillars: renewable and clean energy; oil, petrochemical and mining industries; and land and sea transport and storage. Now in order to achieve these goals, regulatory infrastructures are established to promote the use of advanced technology and innovation to drive growth.
Moreover, it is not correct to talk about this issue without mentioning Masdar; a Mubadala company that is a global leader in deploying renewable energy and sustainable low-carbon urban development. This Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company develops commercially viable renewable energy projects in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) and international markets. Masdar aims at supporting the diversification of the economy and the energy sources for the benefit of future generations, by advancing innovation in clean technologies and building the world’s most sustainable cities.
Therefore, to answer your question, this is a major field that could be attractive in Cyprus. According to the Smart City Index 2021, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have been ranked as the smartest cities in the Middle East and North Africa region. This index normally surveys residents in ranked cities to assess smart infrastructure and services covering health and safety, mobility, activities, opportunities, and governance. Cyprus can follow the example of Masdar City, which was initiated by Abu Dhabi in 2006. Masdar city is very important as it represents the first attempt in the Middle East to build a sustainable city, with the aim to reduce the use of energy. It uses a combination of technology, architectural designs and solar power to run, thus providing high quality of life in an efficient ecosystem and environmentally smart way.
What sectors or what type of projects in Cyprus could be attractive for investment from the UAE?
As we discussed before that energy, tourism, education, shipping and maritime transport are considered as main fields, especially that the UAE has shown its ambition to lead the economy of tomorrow, a goal that is deeply rooted in the spirit of the nation. This vision has been crucial to the UAE’s rapid rise on both regional and international levels.
The UAE ranked among the top 10 in IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking 2021 and is widely respected as a hub for business and investment activities. Agility and resilience have underpinned the success of the UAE so far, as the nation continues its progression to become an international business hub and global leader.
How do you see the relations between Cyprus and the UAE developing in the future?
The history of friendly bilateral relations between the UAE and Cyprus goes back decades. This relationship has been nurtured and flourished deeply since then, as the two countries share similar principles, values and most importantly these days, have the mutual interest in ensuring peace and stability. We are also keen on being a reliable partner for the EU in several fields, notably within trade, but also in facing the challenges of today in areas such as counterterrorism, energy, environment, climate change, food security, non-proliferation and economic diversification.
This bilateral cooperation has taken the healthy path to growth and thus the future relation will draw an intertwined map of connectedness in several areas of cooperation, perhaps especially in renewables and a post-oil sustainable future. Perhaps also cooperation, including areas such as nationally determined contributions, hydrogen and climate financing, are foreseen to be further consolidated, as UAE will host COP28 in 2023.