x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi becomes sister cities with Brisbane

The arrangement is expected to boost trade, business and educational ties and help the Government learn from some of the Australian city's institutions.

ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi and Brisbane are now sister cities, an arrangement that is expected to boost trade, business and educational ties and help the Government learn from some of the Australian city's institutions. The agreement was announced after a delegation from the Department of Municipal Affairs visited Queensland's capital last week as part of a six-day trip to Australia. The UAE officials, headed by the department's undersecretary, Ahmed Shareef, met representatives of the Queensland government, including the Brisbane city council chairman, Margaret de Wit, the state news agency WAM reported yesterday. "There is mutual interest in our two cities in developing a sister city arrangement, which would provide a whole range of opportunities for investment, exporting, education and further collaboration," Mr Shareef said. "There is a growing awareness of a vast range of opportunities through such an arrangement between the cities of Abu Dhabi and Brisbane." Queensland officials briefed the visitors on the roles and functions of Australian government entities, which Mr Shareef said can help Abu Dhabi plan for the future. "They provided many innovative examples of planning and administrative structures that Abu Dhabi would like to learn from," he said. "We are committed to learning from and collaborating with similar foreign entities such as Brisbane to apply these structures into our own system to ensure we develop efficient and sustainable growth. "They also discussed the hurdles to be overcome to avoid bottlenecks occurring in municipal planning approval processes." The meetings reinforced the municipality's view that services that directly affect people's lives should be delivered at a local level rather than through a centralised government structure, WAM reported. Today the delegation will meet the Gold Coast city council and mayor to discuss the methods the council uses to maintain the area's competitive tourist environment. In the afternoon they will tour Bond University's School of Sustainable Development. The school is the first in Australia to offer high-level degree programmes that integrate all aspects of environmentally sustainable planning and design with business, societal, economic, financial, legal and information technology considerations. The trip has also included meetings with government officials in the Australian capital of Canberra. lmorris@thenational.ae