One of major companies of Abu Dhabi plans to make large-scale investments in Armenia - Ambassador
YEREVAN, AUGUST 3, ARMENPRESS. One of the major companies of Abu Dhabi plans to make large-scale investments in Armenia, Gegham Gharibjanyan – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said in an interview to ARMENPRESS, talking about the relations between the two countries, the upcoming programs and the role of the Armenian community.
-Mr. Gharibjanyan, how would you characterize the current level of Armenia-UAE relations?
-The Armenia-UAE bilateral relations are at a high level. Over the past years political, economic mutual visits were taken place. The sides hold regular meetings, consultations discussing bilateral, as well as regional affairs. The major event in the bilateral relations was President Serzh Sargsyan’s official visit to the UAE on November 9-10, 2016. And on March 21-22, 2017 the President paid a working visit to the UAE and delivered speech during the opening ceremony of the UAE-Armenia business forum.
-What achievements will you identify in the Armenian-UAE diplomatic relations for the recent period?
-As I said, last year in November and in March of this year the President visited the UAE. In my opinion, the meetings, discussions and agreements reached during those visits, as well as the current works aimed at implementing them are great progress for the Armenian-UAE bilateral ties.
I would like to note that according to the Armenian President’s decree a decision was made to open Armenia’s Consulate General in Dubai. The Armenian Embassy as well is actively engaged in the ongoing works with the UAE side to open another diplomatic representation in the UAE. I think we will have a chance to give new impetus to the Armenian-UAE political and economic ties thanks to the joint work of the Embassy and the Consulate General in near future.
In 2016 the Sharjah governor donated 1300 square meters of land to Armenia aimed at building center for a permanent exhibition of Armenian products. When the designing works for the construction of the center are completed in Armenia, it must be approved by the Sharjah Emir.
-UAE is an important partner for Armenia. What prospects do you see for expansion of economic partnership between the two countries?
-On March 22, 2017 the Armenia-UAE business forum was held in Abu Dhabi which was attended by 350 investors, 250 out of whom were from the UAE and 100 from Armenia. The forum has been organized under the auspices of President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. The forum has been initiated by the Development Foundation of Armenia (DFA), the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen of Armenia, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and the Armenian Embassy in the UAE.
The forum aimed at boosting the economic ties between Armenia and the Arab countries, the contacts between the businessmen, presenting Armenia’s investment environment and mutually beneficial investment programs at different spheres.
Among the participants were public officials, heads of foundations, representatives of international organizations and companies, companies with successful foreign investment experience in Armenia.
-How much is the trade turnover volume, and do the existing figures satisfy?
-In January-June 2017, the trade turnover volume between Armenia and UAE was 27 million 237.1 thousand USD in terms of exports, and 101 million 437.8 thousand USD in terms of imports. I want to state that these figures are not sufficient enough since they do not reflect the potential that exists in bilateral economic ties.
-How do you assess the investment opportunities of the two countries? During President Sargsyan’s visit to the UAE several directions were outlined, such as agriculture, hotel construction and etc. What results do exist from this perspective?
-During the March 22 investment forum on Armenia in Abu Dhabi the Ocean Holding LLC and Armenia’s Ministry of Energy signed a document according to which the Ocean Holding will make 100 million USD investment in solar energy field. Within the frames of the same forum another two documents were also signed one of which related to the renewable energy field. One of the major companies of Abu Dhabi plans to make major investments in Armenia.
-What are the opportunities in terms of development of tourism between Armenia and the UAE?
-In my opinion, this year several important steps have been taken for the development of tourism from which I would highlight Armenia’s elimination of visa regime for the UAE citizens. According to this, the UAE citizens will no longer need visa for visiting Armenia. This is not only a great achievement for expansion of tourism, but also it can contribute to deepening the Armenian-UAE cooperation at other spheres.
-Let’s talk about the Armenian community, its role in the UAE’s public-political life. How much is the number of Armenians in the UAE? In which spheres they are mainly represented?
-Today about 8000-10000 Armenians live in the UAE. On November 15, 1998 the consecration ceremony of St Gregory the Illuminator church of Sharjah was held led by Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I, as well as the opening ceremonies of the church’s complex, school were held.
There are no Armenian periodicals in the UAE. The only Armenian websites are emahay.com and azad-hay.net.
90% of Armenians living in the UAE are officials of public and private enterprises and are mainly engaged in engineering-construction and economics fields.
There are many successful Armenian philanthropists among the UAE business circles who always assist on making the community life more active.
-Are high-level mutual visits planned for this year?
-President Serzh Sargsyan paid a working visit to the UAE on March 21-22. On July 18 the UAE minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation visited Armenia. Armenian foreign minister Edward Nalbandian’s visit to the UAE is also expected.
-Mr. Ambassaor, what is on the agenda of the Embassy for 2017? Especially at what directions now the Embassy carries out active works?
-As I said President Serzh Sargsyan paid two visits to the UAE. The implementation of agreements reached during the meetings between the Armenian President and the UAE leadership has been and will always remain in the spotlight of the Armenian Embassy, and already works are being carried out for this purpose which I hope will soon give positive results.
Interview by Anna Gziryan