UAE charts new course for 22-country Indian Ocean maritime group
New development fund hoped for organisation's less developed members
The UAE has vowed to reinvigorate a 22-country group that promotes security and stability around the Indian Ocean.
Ahmed Al Sayegh, a Minister of State who assumed the chair the Indian Ocean Rim Association, or Iora this week, said the country would lead efforts to create a development fund to help raise the organisation’s profile and help less-developed states.
Mr Al Sayegh said the UAE would promote the association as way to form new integration and understanding across the region.
“Twenty-two years ago when Iora was launched, close co-operation between our nations was unthinkable,” he said on Thursday.
“Now it seems anything is possible. As the UAE takes over, I hope we can consolidate and build on its many success. The UAE will drive forward Iora as a way to promote a shared prosperity.”
The association was established in 1997 and was inspired by remarks from the South African president, Nelson Mandela, as he urged co-operation in the region.
Today it represents 2.7 billion people who live in countries around the Indian Ocean.
Its main areas of co-operation are maritime security, trade and investment, fisheries management, reducing the risk of disaster, scientific co-operation and promoting tourism and cultural exchange.
Preventing geopolitical conflict and cooling tension are also major aims for the association.
Mr Al Sayegh said a priority for the UAE over the next two years was creating a major development fund to boost growth and help less-developed nations.
No figure was revealed but it is hoped all member states will contribute in some way.
“The UAE believes such a fund is essential to deliver the economic potential of the Indian Ocean rim,” Mr Al Sayegh said.
“We call on states to contribute to the design and implementation of this fund. The UAE wishes to leave a lasting legacy for Iora and fulfil its potential as a globally significant organisation.”
Senior officials from the countries including Tanzania, South Africa and Thailand began meeting in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for three days of talks.
The major Iora Council of Ministers talk will be held on Thursday.
Updated: November 8, 2019 02:28 AM