Last October, President Yoweri Museveni visited the United Arab Emirates to amongst others officiate at the October 3, 2021 Uganda national day celebrations which took place in the 2020 Expo Dubai opportunity district; while here, he met the then Crown Prince and now President as well as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and the Vice President, Prime Minister, Minister of Defence of the UAE as well as ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; those conclaves between those principals spoke of the existence of robust and snuggly bilateral relations between the two countries thereby reaffirming the notability of south-south cooperation for mutual benefit.
Consequently, given those relations, the government of Uganda, with approval from the UAE authorities opened a liaison office in Jumeira district of the Emirate of Dubai–a feat particularly construed as one of the beneficial spin-offs from our country’s participation in the 2020 expo Dubai. The liaison office’s life span of six months i.e from October, 2021 to March, 2022 was purposed to coordinate Uganda’s participation in the expo activities by way of offering consular and protocol support to expo-bound government officials, business delegations as well individuals; a vocation that was successfully done. That coordination nerve centre was delightedly inaugurated by the Special Envoy of the President, Rt. Hon. Dr.RuhakanaRugunda on October 15, 2021.
The UAE government granted virtuous our country permission to open a consulate on April 6, 2022; that diplomatic mission, having morphed from a liaison office, is currently operational and it is representing Uganda’s interests as well as facilitating diplomatic services in Dubai and the other esteemed northern emirates including Sharijah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and UmmAl Quawain.
Our diplomatic presence in Dubai has made it affordable and bargainous to offer both protocol and consular support to Uganda government officials who are either transiting through or visiting Dubai. Likewise, the ever-burgeoning Ugandan diaspora folks in the northern emirates will deftly access consular support from cheek by jowl proximation; these are services that have, in the past, been dispensed from Abu Dhabi, a distance of 180km away from Dubai destination.
Atop of those bilateral relations, this administration’s stratagem of commercial and economic diplomacy guides Uganda’s diplomatic missions on matters of increasing: the volume of trade, tourist numbers, FDIs and mobilizing the diaspora for development (TTFM). Uganda, will achieve severally on all those fronts; with requisite tooling, the consulate is positioned to tap into Dubai’s bubbly and ebullient financial, investible funding, huge tourism industry and its numerous trade opportunities.
An Emirati investor, for instance, is being sought to establish an Arab cultural centre near a national park for use during the oppressive summer heat for relaxation in a cool and serene environment and appreciation of Uganda’s touristic variety. The consulate is exploring ways of encouraging Uganda’s exporters of food and other products to form companies that can bulk-sell them in Dubai. Simultaneously, ways and means are also being explored to link those exporters with the chamber of commerce and the equivalent of an investment vehicle here to ensure quality of those very exportables.
The Emirate of Dubai with a GDP of US$102.67billion and a population of 3.4million people is UAE’s financial and commercial hub; it is a centre of excellence for regional and international trade, tourism, aviation, real estate and financial services which uniquely combine toplace it in a position from which Uganda will benefit by increasing the volume of exports of, particularly, fresh and processed agricultural goods including avocado, pineapples, mangoes, matooke, cassava, sweet potatoes etc. Precious metals will also be emphasized given the huge appetite for them here.
The consulate will earnestly work in concert with the ministries of Trade and Industry, Energy and Mineral Development, Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries and the private sector to ameliorate the existing supply chain bottlenecks and quality issues.
In tandem with this administration’s strategy of mobilizing the diaspora for development, the consulate, together with the UAE-based diaspora are planning an annual convention themed “Uganda: the cardinal Trade and Investment Hub within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA)”which will take place at Hyatt Regency in Deira, Dubai from October 29-30, 2022; hundreds of participants plan to promote their varied cultural heritage and source for new bouts of investments, tourist visits and technology transfer as well as trade opportunities for Uganda’s development. The UAE-based Uganda diaspora remits more than $200m back home.
The inauguration of a Uganda Airline’s flight to Dubai during the 2020 Expo, Dubai means a lot in terms of cargo transportation to the UAE; in essence, there is a real possibility of the career dominating other players in transporting both passengers and cargo from Uganda as well as the East African region most especially from the DRC and South Sudan by doing round trips even through Abu Dhabi. That way the passenger numbers, and correspondingly, the volume of trade with the UAE and the Arab world will surge to unprecedented levels.
Ambassador Henry Mayega