Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United Arab Emirates and Rwanda in 1995, our two nations have fostered a strong and exceptional partnership that has continued to grow and prosper.
Since my first official visit to Rwanda three years ago, I have witnessed the strength of our partnership continue as we have exchanged several high-ranking visits.
Last November, we again had the honour of welcoming President Kagame to the UAE, allowing us to conduct fruitful and constructive discussions on how to further strengthen and solidify our bilateral ties.
Looking forward, the UAE sees great potential to further strengthen its cooperation with Rwanda by continuing to make progress over a range of economic and investment areas, including agriculture, education, infrastructure, and tourism.
Our nations’ shared concerns make us natural partners with a common desire to support the sustainable development of our countries and regions.
A key outcome of our relationship was the establishment of a truly unique partnership in the transport and logistics sector. In 2016, Dubai Ports World was awarded a 25-year concession to develop and operate a new logistics centre in Kigali.
The DP World Kigali Logistics Centre will create jobs, promote and expand regional integration, bring further prosperity to the Rwandan people, and help boost Rwanda’s regional export capacity.
Between 2014 and 2016, non-oil bilateral trade surged from USD 30 million to USD 200 million and with the recent signing of important economic agreements, such as the Protection of Investments and the Avoidance of Double Taxation, our trade is bound to grow even further.
Along with our international cooperation, these agreements will form the basis of our bilateral economic ties, encourage greater private sector engagement, and facilitate further greater investment toward our future.
The UAE considers Rwanda a dependable partner in its efforts to effect positive change in the African continent.
With the recent signing of the Visa Waiver Agreement, UAE nationals are able to travel to Rwanda without prior visa arrangements, allowing more Emiratis to visit Rwanda and further assist in strengthening cooperation in the economic development and tourism sectors.
An example of our cooperation on development projects includes the Dubai Cares program, which launched programmes in Rwanda to provide students with leadership skills and increase their access to quality Early Childhood Education (ECE).
These programmes target more than 18,600 children and young adults across Rwanda to provide students with business development skills, including mentorship, so they may become entrepreneurs, start businesses, and contribute to Rwanda’s economic future.
The UAE considers Rwanda, which tops the United Nations’ list for countries with the most women in parliament, a leading example in women’s empowerment. Like Rwanda, the UAE understands the importance of having our entire generation participate in the development of our country, which is why the president of the UAE’s parliament is a woman, and 9 out of 32 cabinet members in the UAE are women.
As a continuation of our shared national interest and in celebration of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, the UAE signed an agreement with Rwanda to provide 20 scholarships to Rwandan girls and women to begin study in the UAE.
These scholarships emphasise and affirm the importance of women’s leadership roles in society, and effectively ensure their contribution to sustainable development of our nations.
Rwanda’s tenacity, resolve, and “can-do” spirit is respected by the UAE, which has undertaken its own economic transformation.
Through fulfilling the promise of our partnership between UAE and Rwanda, I am confident we will contribute to our nations’ futures, as well as support regional peace and prosperity.
The writer is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, United Arab Emirates.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.