x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE officials back from Sudan after visit to bolster political ties

Dr Mohammed Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, met with Sudanese officials to discuss financial and political issues.

ABU DHABI // An official delegation led by Dr Mohammed Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, is back from a two-day visit to Juba and Khartoum, where it met with Sudanese officials to discuss financial and political issues. "The purpose of the visit was not only to facilitate economic development between Sudan and the UAE, but to also discuss a stronger political relationship," said Nour Al-Huda Abdul Alim, economic adviser at the Sudanese Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Gargash's delegation included 19 government officials and business executives from the banking, communications, agriculture and property-development sectors. Among the topics discussed were how to improve relations with Sudan and increasing Emirati investments there. "This visit will open new avenues for Sudan, where investments are extremely needed in the north and south of the country, and particularly in infrastructure investment," said Ali Karti, the Sudanese minister for foreign affairs.

Mr Karti and Dr Gargash discussed the problems of Darfur, and how to advance Arab endeavours to solve them from both humanitarian and political perspectives. The delegation also met with Omar al Bashir, the Sudanese President. During the visit, Dr Gargash announced that the UAE would invest $1.9 billion (Dh7bn) in Sudan, the state news agency, WAM, reported yesterday. Bilateral trade between Sudan and the UAE is now $650 million.

"The UAE has taken a strategic decision to expand its investments in Sudan," Dr Gargash said to reporters during his visit. "We are looking towards strengthening our relationship with Sudan in general, and we are particularly keen to develop our relationship with South Sudan in specific, to enhance our economic co-operation in the areas of telecommunications and real estate." The UAE's position as a leading global financial hub has made it a model of development that is worth emulating, Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of the autonomous government of South Sudan, told the delegation.

"As a fledgling economy, we have a lot to learn from the UAE economic miracle," he said. Dr Riak Machar, the South Sudanese vice president, said his government and the Arab League are planning a conference on Arab investment in South Sudan, tentatively scheduled for March next year. Dr Gargash described his visit to Sudan as "fruitful and positive". In a meeting with Sudanese investment minister George Bureng, dr Gargash was briefed on the Sudanese Investment Law, which encourages investors to exploit extensive remote areas in agriculture; an attractive proposal to a country with less than one per cent of its land arable for agricultural growth, like the UAE.

Dr Gargash left Sudan with the reassurance of the Sudanese government that the would provide ideal conditions for UAE investments in the country. hkhalaf@thenational.ae