Fijian embassy opens in Capital

Aisha Tariq / 3 September 2012

The Republic of Fiji officially opened its first diplomatic mission in the UAE yesterday in the presence of Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and the UAE Minister of State Reem Ibrahim Al Hashmi.

The embassy will be Fiji’s first in the Arabian Gulf region, said Prime Minister Bainimarama at the opening ceremony.

“The opening of Fiji’s embassy today is the latest step in my government’s commitment to expand our engagement with the rest of the world, in particular the Middle East,” he said, noting that hundreds of Fijians have served in international peacekeeping missions throughout the Middle East and North Africa over the past three decades. “Our presence here reflects the influential and very positive role that this nation, this region and the Arab people are playing in the world. The UAE has shown the world how development and economic growth can take place in a relatively short span of time for the benefit of the citizens through a focused vision,” he added.

In addition to learning from the UAE’s example of economic development, Fiji seeks to facilitate trade relations between the two nations, said Prime Minister Bainimarama. To this end, the UAE and Fiji are expected to sign a double taxation agreement today, benefiting both Emirati investors and Fijian businesses hoping to establish a presence in the UAE.

“It is just the first step towards building greater cooperation, particularly in trade and investment,” he said, pointing out opportunities in the Fijian industries of tourism, manufacturing, agribusiness, timber and mining.   Fijian Ambassador Robin Nair, who has been here for six weeks, told Khaleej Times that he believes his country made the right decision in selecting the UAE for its first diplomatic mission in the Arabian Gulf. “It’s a very strategic point to operate from, because of the stability in the UAE,” he said. “The rest of the countries around the region look up to the UAE as an example of how to look after its people.”

The new embassy located in Etihad Towers, will provide consular and citizenship services to the 227 Fiji nationals who live in the UAE. “We are very significantly involved for a small country like ours,” said Ambassador Nair, commenting that most Fijians contribute to the local economy in a professional capacity, notably in the fields of aviation and healthcare.

Several members of the Fijian community attended yesterday’s ceremony, witnessing the unveiling of the new embassy’s plaque and performances by a traditional song and dance group that came from Fiji to participate in the event.

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