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Newsletter 01/2015

A word from the Ambassador | Reflecting on 2014 and looking ahead

 

2014 was the first full year of the Abbott Government’s engagement with the UAE and it was certainly a very busy and challenging twelve months. On the trade and investment side, Minister Andrew Robb visited twice, including to headline our annual Australia Unlimited promotion in April, and in doing so gave much needed momentum to a possible resumption of Australia-GCC Free Trade Agreement negotiations, as well as promoting greater GCC investment into Australia.

New Australian companies entering the market have continued to grow, facilitated by the expansion in flights to 133 return trips per week between our two countries. Business delegations have also established good connections, including the 30-odd delegates who accompanied Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk on his trip to the UAE in September.

This year has started at breakneck pace. Last month we saw the Prime Minister make his first official visit to the UAE and third overall in the past fifteen months. He also promoted the FTA and greater engagement on trade and investment while he was here. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop followed a couple of weeks later, and she found it useful to be able to meet a small group of Australian businesspeople, including the chair of the ABCD, to hear their views on the economic environment. This visit coincided with the participation of 35 Australian companies at this year’s Arab Health exhibition in Dubai. Ms Bishop was able to interact with them during a reception hosted by Austrade in the margins of the exhibition.

We are also expecting 125 Australian companies, including 57 exhibitors, at Gulfood this month. Our Australia Day celebration at the Hiltonia Beach Club had around 800 attendees, including plenty of ABCD members. It was an honour to have UAE Ministers HH Sheikh Nayhan bin Mubarak and HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi grace our celebration, as we reflected on what a busy year it has been and the upward trajectory of our bilateral relationship. Shannon Noll and his band also had a great time performing for the crowd.

Of course, I couldn’t sign off without a comment on the Socceroos tremendous win in the AFC Asian Cup final. It was great to see ten teams from the Middle East at the event, including all the Gulf States, and especially to see the UAE perform so well to reach third place.

The Embassy and Consulate have put in a lot of work over the past year to promote Australian sports events capability and investment around the AFC tournament, including facilitating the visit of the Socceroos to the UAE and hosting functions during the AFC Asian Cup trophy’s tour of both the UAE and Qatar. We are hopeful this work will pay off over future years. I was fortunate to attend the final match as well as take part in two events hosted by Minister Robb in Sydney on the day of the final which attracted strong participation from UAE and Qatari entities.

We look forward to working with many of you in the year ahead, as we focus on boosting our economic diplomacy endeavours.

Pablo Kang

Australian Ambassador to the UAE and Qatar

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