Gulf News - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­GEL TESORERO Staff Re­porter

■His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Vice-Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, re­ceived Dr Abiy Ah­mad, Prime Min­is­ter of Ethiopia, at Zabeel Palace yes­ter­day. Ah­mad later ad­dressed 6,000 Ethiopi­ans at Shabab Al Ahli Club in Al Aweer.

With prom­ise of last­ing peace an­chored on eco­nomic progress, Ethiopian Prime Min­is­ter Abiy Ah­mad, who is in the UAE for a state visit, has called on the Ethiopian di­as­pora to forge ties and in­vest in their coun­try’s fu­ture.

Ad­dress­ing a crowd of around 6,000 Ethiopian ex­pa­tri­ates yes­ter­day at Shabab Al Ahli Club in Al Aweer, Ah­mad — who spoke in Amharic and Oromi­faa, the two main lan­guages of Ethiopia — said: “I prom­ise there will be a just and last­ing peace in our coun­try, where kids can play safely and the el­derly can rest.”

An es­ti­mated 100,000 Ethiopi­ans live in the UAE, with a large num­ber of them employed as do­mes­tic work­ers, labour­ers and ser­vice staff.

“The di­as­pora will stop and Ethiopi­ans will no longer be forced to mi­grate to other coun­tries to work be­cause we have made eco­nomic progress in our land,” added Ah­mad, 43, who was awarded the 2019 No­bel Peace Prize for his ef­forts in end­ing decades of in­ternecine war be­tween Ethiopia and neigh­bour­ing Eritrea.

‘Come back home’

The crowd met the prime min­is­ter’s mes­sage with chants and ul­u­la­tions as he con­tin­ued: “I call on you [Ethiopi­ans] to come back home soon. In­vest in Ethiopia what­ever way you can. You are our most valu­able trea­sure. The um­bil­i­cal ties be­tween you and the mother­land are strong,” Abiy un­der­lined.

“The Ethiopia that we en­vi­sion is a coun­try where the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion will en­joy the hard work we are do­ing to­day. They will go abroad not to work as labour­ers or do­mes­tic helpers but as pro­fes­sion­als,” he added.

A large part of Ah­mad’s speech was also ded­i­cated to thank­ing the UAE and its lead­ers for be­ing wel­com­ing to Ethiopian ex­pa­tri­ates. He also dwelt on the friendship and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the UAE and Ethiopia. He talked about ways to tackle is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est.

Ah­mad also told his people to take in­spi­ra­tion from the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sul­tan Al Nahyan, UAE’s Found­ing Fa­ther, “who de­vel­oped a coun­try based on mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion among peo­ples of var­i­ous cultures.”

A son of a Muslim fa­ther and an Ortho­dox Chris­tian mother, Ah­mad also praised the UAE for its religious tol­er­ance.

“Ethiopi­ans are very closed with our Mid­dle Eastern neigh­bours

be­cause we share the same history with them.”

He noted that Ethiopia was the first coun­try in history to ac­cept mi­grant Mus­lims.

“When Prophet Mo­ham­mad (PBUH) saw his fol­low­ers were per­se­cuted in Makkah, he told them to find safe haven in north­ern Ethiopia, Abyssinia. It was the first hi­jra (mi­gra­tion) in Is­lam history,” he noted.

Ah­mad, known as a de­vout Evan­gel­i­cal Pen­te­costal Chris­tian, also said that Ethiopia is one of the old­est Chris­tian states in the world.

He re­it­er­ated that Ethiopian cul­ture values in­clu­sion and co­op­er­a­tion. He stressed the need for last­ing peace in the coun­try, “there should be a so­cial com­pact for Ethiopi­ans to build a demo­cratic and hu­mane so­ci­ety.


Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Ethiopian Prime Min­is­ter Abiy Ah­mad’s photo and the colours of the na­tional flag adorn ■ a screen at Shabab Al Ahli Club in Al Aweer yes­ter­day.

Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Ethiopian ex­pa­tri­ates soak up the mo­ment as Prime Min­is­ter ■ Abiy Ah­mad ad­dresses the gath­er­ing at Shabab Al Ahli Club.

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