Forging closer ties between Zanzibar and UAE

SINCE the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Tanzania established their diplomatic relations in 1974, the two states have been maintaining magnificent and great evolving ties.

Tanzania opened its embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2002, while the UAE opened its embassy in Dar es Salaam in 2007. The relationship between Tanzania and UAE is based at a larger magnitude on the cultural and mainly economic aspects as far as trade and investment are concerned.

Earlier this year, on 20th January, the President of Zanzibar and the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar, Dr Ally Mohammed Shein, paid a state visit to the UAE.

The visit started with bilateral talks between President Shein and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the leader of Abu Dhabi. He later on met with  Mohamed Saif Suwaid, the Director of  Abu-Dhabi Fund for Development and visited Nishati Masdar town, Louvre memorial building, Sheikh Zayed Mosque Wahat Al Karama.

Dr Shein  and his entourage also visited Dubai where he held talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE. While in Dubai, Dr Shein visited free port areas at Jebel Ali and the new and modern town of Nakheel and a project of Palm Jumeirah.

Dr Shein also visited Sharjah town where he held talks with Dr Shaikh Sultan Mohammed Al Qasimi, the administrator of Sharjah.While in Sharjah Dr Shein visited East Fishing Processing LLC where fishing is conducted and Ras Al Khaimah where he held talks with Sheikh Saud Saqr Al Qasimi

During their talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum the two leaders pledged cooperation in various sectors, including business, investment and tourism. In their joint statement, the leaders expressed their commitment to develop long-term relationship between their two countries and Tanzania in general.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum assured Dr Shein that UAE would make efforts to ensure that the long-term relationship between the two countries are strengthened.

Dr Shein told his host that Zanzibar is taking initiatives to ensure that tourism industry is expanding and the government's goal is to receive 500,000 tourists in 2020.  Zanzibar has many tourist attractions including; the historic Old City (stone town), hospitality, beaches and rich Swahili culture.

Peace, security and tranquility which are a pillar for strengthening the tourism industry, are fully guaranteed.   Dr Shein also pointed out the strategies aimed at ensuring the tourism industry becomes more productive considering the development of science and technology.

Also, Dr Shein while in Dubai, negotiated with  trade unions and investors in  Dubai and welcomed them to invest in Zanzibar, saying that the community is composed of experienced members in the region and their contribution has led to rapid development in tourism and investment in Dubai which is exemplary throughout the world.

 So, with the full experience that they possess, Dr Shein requested Dubai companies to invest in Zanzibar and grab opportunities in all existing sectors.

Early this month, a technical team of 16 specialists from the  UAE arrived in Zanzibar for a special four-day visit to start implementing the agreements culminating from Dr Shein’s visit.

The delegation that was led by the Adviser of Minister of State Secretary General of the United Arab Emirates, Najla Al Kaabi was welcomed by the Presidential Adviser for International Cooperation and Economic Affairs, Ambassador Mohamed Ramia Abdiwawa and Minister Ussi Gavu.

In his remarks, Ambassador Ramia explained that the delegation was preceded by the UAE International Minister of State, Reem Ibrahim Alhashimy. The delegation visited Unguja as well as Pemba Island with a view to overseeing the projects in the surrounding area and the investment sites.

In terms of goals between UAE and Zanzibar from Dr Shein’s visit to the UAE, the total of the seven projects in the agreement were discussed, including a rehabilitation project for Wete Hospital as well as the construction of Chake Road to coastal region.

In addition, the contexts of the Zanzibar projects that will be involved are the project at Binguni Hospital, the City Hall Rehabilitation Project, the National University of Zanzibar (SUZA) and the Fumba-Airport Road to the city.

In the team of experts, there was also a delegation from the Khalifa Fund, whose major activities are to assist entrepreneurs including those in need of various financial assistances.

Also it was agreed that, the UAE will open its consulate office in Zanzibar very soon to make sure that all agreements are implemented and facilitate better relations between Zanzibar and UAE.

 From this consulate, the diplomatic ties between Tanzania and UAE including Zanzibar will emphasize a strong cemented bond. Also the Zanzibari's will have a wide range of carrying many trips to UAE including business trips under the facilitation of this consulate.

The UAE is among Tanzania’s top five import partners headed by China representing 12 per cent of total imports, followed by Switzerland (8.8 per cent), South Africa (8.5 per cent), UAE (8.4 per cent), and India (7.6 per cent).

UAE is also Tanzania’s primary trade and investment partner in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) followed by Oman. From 2003 to 2016, UAE’s direct accumulative investment in the Tanzania rose to USD 991.5million.

The trade balance between UAE and Tanzania stands at around USD2billion annually. In 2013 Tanzania imported $1.14 billion worth of goods from the UAE with 53 per cent of that being refined petroleum products; while in 2013 the UAE imported $85 million worth of goods from Tanzania, mainly agriculture products.

Exports from Tanzania to UAE recorded USD 84.6 million representing 62.9 per cent of the total sent to GCC in 2013 up from USD 15.5 million representing 41.16 percent of the total sent to GCC in 2003 according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Despite the decline of 8.8 per cent in non-oil trade exchange between the two countries from USD1.58billion in 2014 to USD1.45billion in 2015, Tanzania, occupied the 41strank on the list of UAE’s non-oil trading partners.

Tanzania imports mainly refined petroleum products from the UAE, while the UAE is the largest buyer of cloves from Zanzibar, Tanzania.

On the other hand, Najla Alkaabi explained that the UAE citizens are proud of the solidarity and good relations with Zanzibar.

Furthermore, she explained that the visit of President Dr Shein in the UAE has been able to provide a wide range of opportunities to strengthen the cooperation and historical relationship between the two parties in developing various economic issues and development projects as well as cultural ties.

In line with this, Najla Al Kaabi explained that all UAE officials are grateful for the relationship between Zanzibar and the unity of those countries whereby she believes there is a basis for strengthening.

Nevertheless, there are a few challenges between Tanzania-UAE trade relations which if not addressed promptly could result in affecting bilateral trade and investment.

However, there is a Joint Commission between the UAE and Tanzania which is mandated, among other things, to resolve, at fast track, any issues that may stand in the way of trade relationship.

In Zanzibar, there are ongoing measures which are being taken to strengthen the investment and trade sector in particular and UAE is being regarded as Zanzibar's largest commercial history including Dubai emphasizing the need for the Emirate Air Force as the trip between Dubai and Zanzibar has further strengthened the trade industry.

In addition, the Government's plans to ensure that investors 'resources are protected from various law enforcement agencies aimed at enhancing big investment in Zanzibar.

  • Mohamed Mansour Nassor

is an Assistant Lecturer, at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow



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