UAE to cre­ate de­vel­op­ment fund as it plots new course for In­dian Ocean group

The National - News - - NEWS | EMIRATES - JOHN DENNEHY

The UAE promised to rein­vig­o­rate a 22-coun­try group pro­mot­ing se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity around the In­dian Ocean.

Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Min­is­ter of State, be­came chair­man of the In­dian Ocean Rim As­so­ci­a­tion this week and said the coun­try would lead ef­forts to cre­ate a de­vel­op­ment fund to help boost the group’s pro­file and help less-de­vel­oped states.

He said the UAE would pro­mote the as­so­ci­a­tion as a way to ben­e­fit in­te­gra­tion and un­der­stand­ing across the re­gion.

“Twenty-two years ago when Iora was launched, close co­op­er­a­tion be­tween our na­tions was un­think­able. Now, it seems any­thing is pos­si­ble,” Mr Al Sayegh said on Thurs­day.

“As the UAE takes over, I hope we can con­sol­i­date and build upon its many suc­cess.

“The UAE will drive for­ward Iora as a way to pro­mote a shared pros­per­ity.”

Iora was es­tab­lished in 1997 and was in­spired by South African pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela as he urged co-op­er­a­tion in the re­gion.

To­day, the group rep­re­sents 2.7 bil­lion peo­ple who live in coun­tries bor­der­ing the In­dian Ocean.

Iora has six main ar­eas of co-op­er­a­tion: mar­itime se­cu­rity, trade and in­vest­ment, fish­eries man­age­ment, re­duc­ing the risk of dis­as­ter, sci­en­tific co-op­er­a­tion and pro­mot­ing tourism and cul­tural ex­change.

Pre­vent­ing geopo­lit­i­cal con­flict and re­duc­ing ten­sion in the re­gion are also cru­cial to the as­so­ci­a­tion’s aims.

Mr Al Sayegh said a pri­or­ity for the UAE in the next two years would be to cre­ate a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment fund to in­crease growth in the re­gion, with all mem­ber states con­tribut­ing in some way.

“The UAE be­lieves such a fund is es­sen­tial to de­liver the eco­nomic po­ten­tial of the In­dian Ocean rim,” Mr Al Sayegh said.

“The UAE wishes to leave a last­ing legacy for Iora and ful­fil its po­ten­tial as a glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Se­nior of­fi­cials from coun­tries in­clud­ing Tan­za­nia, South Africa and Thai­land gath­ered in Abu Dhabi on Tues­day for three days of talks, with a Iora Coun­cil of Min­is­ters meet­ing held on Thurs­day.

The UAE wishes to leave a legacy for Iora and ful­fil its po­ten­tial as a glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant or­gan­i­sa­tion

Vic­tor Besa / The Na­tional

Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Min­is­ter of State, took over as chair­man of the In­dian Ocean Rim As­so­ci­a­tion

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