x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fiji premier in capital to open embassy

The prime minister is in Abu Dhabi to open the first Fijian embassy in the Middle East and meet with the investment authorities.

The Minister of State Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimi, right, and the prime minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama celebrate the opening of his nation's embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The Minister of State Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimi, right, and the prime minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama celebrate the opening of his nation's embassy in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // The first Fijian embassy in the Middle East opened in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Voreqe Bainimarama, the island nation's prime minister, presided over the ribbon-cutting.

He will remain in the UAE for the next four days to hold diplomatic meetings, as well as talks with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).

"In July this year, Fiji became the first country in the region to agree to sign a double taxation agreement with the United Arab Emirates," Mr Bainimarama said. He is to formally sign the deal today, opening the way for trade between the two nations.

"The giant leaps that the UAE has made over the last decade is something that Fiji stands to gain from, and we look forward to learning from the experiences of the Emirates," he added.

Talks with ADIA will include the possibility of investing in private Fijian retirement villages, Mr Bainimarama said.

"There has been some indication of interest through ADIA by private investors in developing retirement villages with state-of-the-art medical facilities," he said. "This would also fit in with our plans to develop medical tourism."

Talks with the ADFD, which provides assistance to developing nations, will focus on several development projects.

"We have identified some projects that are being considered by ADFD, like the rural electrification project," Mr Bainimarama said said. "We would look at investments to develop our natural resources, education, health and housing for our people and for developing alternative sources of energy."

Over the past six weeks, the two governments have been discussing an air transport agreement.

An invitation has also been extended to the UAE Government to open an embassy in Fiji.

"As an emerging economy within the region, my government will welcome any desire by authorities here to set up a mission," Mr Bainimarama said. "This, of course, will strengthen the Emirates' presence within the South Pacific."

About 270 Fijians live in the UAE, many of them working as pilots, flight staff, engineers or nurses.

amustafa@thenational.ae