Tuesday 06 December 2022 - 12:40:03 am

UAE is Australia’s largest trading partner in Middle East: Commissioner General McGowan

By Lina Ibrahim

DUBAI, 8th December, 2021 (WAM) – The UAE and Australia enjoy friendly, multi-faceted and rapidly growing relations, said Justin McGowan, Commissioner General of Australia at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The UAE is Australia’s largest trading partner and second-largest source of investment in the Middle East, he said, adding that annual trade between the two countries is valued approximately at AU$9.8 billion (USD7.1 billion).

In a statement to Emirates News Agency (WAM), McGowan pointed out that about 17,000 Australians live in the UAE, and more than 250 Australian companies are based here. "We aim to promote trade and investment between Australia and the UAE as the foundation of long term strategic relations," he said, noting that Australian businesses have already received A$170 million of orders in goods and services during the making of Expo 2020 Dubai.

Located in the Mobility District, Australian pavilion themed ‘Blue Sky Dreaming’, pursues activities around three pillars that include promoting Australian products and services; highlighting the country's innovation, ingenuity, and cultural diversity, and attracting international investment and trade.

This has helped position Australia as a global leader in industry sectors including food and agribusiness, education, advanced manufacturing (including space), resources and energy (including sustainability), healthcare, digital technology, and major infrastructure, McGowan said.

To support its plan, Australian Trade and Investment Commission is hosting a strategic programme of in-person and virtual events connecting Australian business and industry to the UAE and presenting global trade and investment opportunities.

"The key message that we would like to convey to Australians back home is that our participation in Expo 2020 Dubai provides a platform for Australia to pursue economic recovery opportunities, particularly in the sectors and markets most impacted by COVID-19," McGowan said.

Australia Pavilion demonstrates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people used the stars to navigate the land and map meteorological seasons and how Australians are preserving and protecting their arts, culture, linguistics, and diversity.

As far as visitor experience goes, they are guided through three immersive exhibition spaces. The Welcome Stories section is a mural-lined tunnel, featuring bold installations of contemporary Indigenous art, where visitors receive a warm Australian welcome and discover what life is like in Australia.

Then, the Star Dreaming gallery introduces them to Australia’s First Nations people, descendants of the world’s oldest civilisation, and they discover the dreamtime stories of the stars.

They are then guided into Annika’s Journey, an exhibition space where wall-to-wall video projections captivate visitors with the story of a young girl’s journey throughout Australia and the possibilities of her future. The visitor experience lasts around 24 minutes.

"The UAE is the ideal nation to host the World Expo," McGowan said. It is the gateway to the MENASA region and five billion people can fly in within an 8-hour radius.

"Its open economy, with more than 21 free zones, is a model for other nations and it is the region's leader in the ease of doing business rankings for the ninth year in a row. It has played a significant part in enhancing international cooperation and trade," he said, adding that very few countries in the world have the capability and vision to create what the UAE has done with the Expo 2020 Dubai opportunity.

Australia’s Commissioner-General also lauded UAE’s efforts in leveraging its strength in infrastructure development to come up with a wondrous Expo site and provide the best possible facilities to exhibiting countries.

"The physical infrastructure has been matched by the digital in equal measure. The UAE ranked first among countries with the best electronic infrastructure globally, and 31st for the quality of digital life in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020 and the connectivity and futuristic virtues of the expo site are proof enough of these rankings," he added.

On 16th January 2020, Burj Khalifa was lit up with #mateshelpmates as a sign of the UAE’s support for Australia's bushfire response. "We were touched by the gesture of the UAE government. We also appreciate the mature response of the UAE government to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that its vaccination rate and percentages are among the highest in the world and new infections among the lowest," McGowan concluded.

WAM/Lina ibrahim/MOHD AAMIR