This year, we celebrate 25 years of friendship and diplomacy between Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates. This celebration is a landmark one for our bilateral relations and my visit to Kazakhstan in late May presented an opportunity to reflect on the status of our partnership and on what steps we can take to further strengthen links between Kazakhstan and the UAE.
The relationship between Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates is underpinned by a shared desire to uphold principles that both our countries hold dear. We stand united in our resolve to build on the warm and multi-faceted relations that exist between our countries, embrace opportunities and confront challenges in a fast changing world.
The United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan share a solid commitment to promoting a positive and constructive sustainable development agenda and a vision for advancing cooperation in the development of clean energy technologies. Future Energy will be the theme of the Astana EXPO 2017, which is scheduled to begin in June. The UAE believes the EXPO 2017 in Astana will mark a milestone in the development of clean and renewable energy and is very pleased to have the largest pavilion at the exhibition, spread over 980 square meters and featuring a presence from major UAE organisations.
Kazakhstan’s participation in the World EXPO in Dubai in 2020 is also an important manifestation of the strength of our relationship. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Kazakhstan for being one of the first countries to officially announce its participation, and I look forward to welcoming Kazakh visitors to the first World EXPO in the Middle East in 2020. Our EXPO teams are working closely together to share expertise and assist each other, and formalised their cooperation earlier this year through a memorandum of understanding.
Economic ties are a core area of focus in our bilateral relations. With a non-oil volume of trade of close to $250 million in 2016, the UAE is Kazakhstan’s largest Arab trade partner. Over the last decade, the UAE has made substantial investments exceeding $2 billion in a wide array of economic sectors in Kazakhstan. These include establishing the Al Falah Fund in Kazakhstan, which helps finance projects in strategic areas, such as oil and gas, and food security. Currently, there are approximately 200 Emirati companies operating in Kazakhstan, including Al Hilal, an Abu Dhabi-based bank, which established the first Islamic bank in Kazakhstan and Al Dar, a leading UAE real estate developer, which is building the Abu Dhabi Plaza in Astana.
UAE companies remain interested in investing in Kazakhstan and in order to facilitate these investments, we have agreed to make progress on several important bilateral agreements, which will be signed during my visit. These include an agreement on the establishment of a Kazakh-Emirati Business Council and an agreement related to the establishment by Mubadala and the Kazakh Government of a petrochemical complex in Kazakhstan.
The UAE also looks to Kazakhstan as a friend on the international stage, where we are like-minded partners on pressing global and regional issues, including non-proliferation and the urgent need to fight extremism. Over the last years, the UAE has supported a number of Kazakh initiatives, including the establishment of the Islamic Organisation for Food Security in Astana and the establishment of the first-ever Low-Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan. We have also supported Kazakhstan’s successful bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017–18, and we look forward to working with Kazakhstan during its term on the UN Security Council to advance issues related to peace and security.
Furthermore, both our countries focus on investing in human capital and in a foreign policy that strongly emphasises soft power. There are strong cultural and people-to-people links between the UAE and Kazakhstan, which were reaffirmed by the recent signing of an agreement between the Emirates Diplomatic Academy and the Kazakh Academy of Public Administration. I trust that our increased dialogue on education, training and research will help us strengthen our important relationship in a constructive way. I am also confident that our countries will continue to expand their ties in a wide array of sectors in the years to come.
On the occasion of my visit to Kazakhstan, I reaffirm the commitment of the UAE to continue strengthening our relationship, and I look forward to working with our Kazakh partners to deepen the bonds between our people and create new opportunities for the future. I believe it is in the mutual interest of both countries to continue to strengthen these ties.
The author is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates.