Some Nigerian Ex-Convicts Stranded In UAE Blackmailing FG – NIDCOM

File Photo of Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa

 

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has cautioned stranded citizens in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, to stop blackmailing their home and host countries.

In a statement on Thursday signed by NIDCOM spokesman, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, the agency said many of the stranded persons are illegal migrants who have been jailed for several crimes in their host country.

“In line with its citizens’ diplomacy, the Federal Government approved the evacuation of over 300 Nigerians stranded in the UAE. Regrettably, many of those affected have not been cooperative as they refused to follow the laid down procedures.

“Investigations also revealed that over 100 Nigerians who had served various jail sentences (ranging from drugs to credit card frauds, robberies, etc.) suddenly landed at the holding centres, demanding of the Nigerian consulate in Dubai to ‘immediately bring them back’. Their voices have been the loudest,” the statement read in part.

READ ALSO: No More UAE Tourist Visas For Persons Under 40 Years – FG

The statement quoted NIDCOM Chairman, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, as saying, “Rather than complying with the directives of the Nigerian consulate in Dubai, some Nigerians were busy pursuing a media blackmail of the Federal Government as well as the UAE government. This media blackmail, she said, will make an already bad case, worse, noting that rules on such cases would not be circumvented.

“Recalling several warnings to Nigerians, particularly on the zero tolerance of the UAE for the consequences of flouting their rules, she added that the allegation that Nigerians were abandoned in Dubai is completely untrue and misleading as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Mission have been working assiduously with the UAE authorities to assist over 300 Nigerians stranded in the country for various reasons, ranging from overstay, lost passports, lack of documentation especially in the case of infants, to pending cases with the Emirati Police.

“She advised Nigerians so affected to comply with the laid down rules and regulations as stipulated by the UAE and the Nigeria Consulate in Dubai, and await further communication from officials of the mission who have constantly visited them at the holding centre.”

No More UAE Tourist Visas For Persons Under 40 Years – FG

A file photo of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
A file photo of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

 

The Federal Government has reacted to a viral video showing stranded Nigerians at an airport in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

The video had suggested the Nigerians had been denied entry into the UAE despite possessing valid visas.

In a statement signed by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Francisca Omayuli, the government said the stranded Nigerians did not have the correct visas.

The statement added that the UAE has stopped issuing tourist visas to persons under the age of 40 years, “except for those applying for family visas.”

“The Nigerian Mission in Dubai has clarified that most of the supposedly stranded Nigerians were issued with family visas, only to arrive Dubai alone without any family member,” the statement said.

“Consequently, they were denied entry and advised to return to their country and apply for the appropriate visas,” Omayuli said.

“However, those persons allowed entry into the country have their family members in the UAE, while those who claimed their family members were on another flight were told to wait at the airport pending their arrival.

“The general public is invited to note and be guided that the Government of the UAE has introduced a new visa regime and has stopped issuing tourist visas to persons under the age of 40 years, except for those applying for family visas.

“It is, therefore, instructive for prospective visa applicants to indicate clearly their visa preferences without any ambiguity and also respect the immigration laws of other countries so as to avoid unwarranted treatments.”

Israel Signs UAE Free Trade Deal, Its First In Arab World

A handout image provided by the United Arab Emirates News Agency (WAM) on May 31, 2022. (Photo by WAM / AFP)

 

Israel signed a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, its first with an Arab country, building on their US-brokered normalisation of diplomatic relations in 2020.

Israel’s ambassador to the oil-rich UAE, Amir Hayek, tweeted “mabruk” — congratulations in Arabic — with a photo of Emirati and Israeli officials holding documents at a signing ceremony in Dubai.

The Emirati envoy to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, hailed as an “unprecedented achievement” the deal that, according to the Israeli side, scraps customs duties on 96 percent of all products traded.

“Businesses in both countries will benefit from faster access to markets and lower tariffs as our nations work together to increase trade, create jobs, promote new skills and deepen cooperation,” Khaja tweeted.

The 2020 deal was part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords that also saw Israel establish diplomatic ties with Bahrain and Morocco.

Two-way trade between Israel and the UAE last year totalled some $900 million dollars, according to Israeli figures.

UAE-Israel Business Council president Dorian Barak predicted that trade would soon multiply between the regional powerhouse economies.

“UAE-Israel trade will exceed $2 billion in 2022, rising to around $5 billion in five years, bolstered by collaboration in renewables, consumer goods, tourism and the life sciences sectors,” he said in a statement.

“Dubai is fast becoming a hub for Israeli companies that look to South Asia, the Middle East and the Far East as markets for their goods and services.”

Nearly 1,000 Israeli companies will be working in and through the UAE by year’s end, he said.

– Trade diplomacy –

The UAE was the first Gulf country to normalise ties with Israel and only the third Arab nation to do so after Egypt and Jordan.

Talks for a free trade agreement began in November and concluded after four rounds of negotiations.

The latest was held in March in Egypt between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE’s long-time de facto ruler who became president this month after the death of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa.

Israel had in March hosted a meeting of the top diplomats from the United States, UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.

Sudan in 2020 also agreed to normalise ties with Israel, but the strife-torn northeast African country has yet to finalise a deal.

Israel has already struck free trade agreements with other countries and blocs, including the United States, European Union, Canada and Mexico.

In February, Israel signed a trade deal with Rabat to designate special industrial zones in Morocco.

– Palestinian issue –

The Abraham Accords broke with long-standing pan-Arab policy to isolate Israel until it withdraws from the occupied territories and accepts Palestinian statehood.

Palestinians condemned the agreements struck under then US president Donald Trump, and the conflict continues to inflame tensions, including between Israel and the UAE.

Tuesday’s signing came two days after thousands of flag-waving Israelis marched through Jerusalem’s Old City during a nationalist procession marking Israel’s 1967 capture of east Jerusalem.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1980, a move never recognised by the international community.

The UAE on Monday “strongly condemned” what it called Israel’s “storming” of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque compound, one of Islam’s holiest sites.

The UAE “reiterated its firm position on the need to provide full protection for Al Aqsa Mosque and halt serious and provocative violations taking place there”, reported the official WAM news agency.

President Buhari Returns To Nigeria After Condolence Trip To UAE

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari disembarking from a plane in Abuja.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to the country from the United Arab Emirates.

The President left Nigeria on Thursday to pay a condolence visit to the new President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on the passing of his predecessor, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During the visit, President Buhari expressed his condolences and that of Nigeria to Sheikh Mohamed and congratulated him on his election as President.

READ ALSO: It Is Unfair To Say Buhari Ignores Victims Of Attacks In Nigeria – Presidency

He assured the new UAE leader of his determination to do more to ensure the growth of the strategic partnership between Nigeria and the Asian country.

President Buhari also hopes that under Sheikh Mohamed the two countries will continue to actively champion a vision of sustainable security, strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, facilitate trade and investment, and promote prosperity and development.

Buhari Pays Condolence Visit To New UAE President, Seeks Stronger Ties

President Muhammadu Buhari offers condolences to the new UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at Mushrif Palace on Friday, May 20, 2022. Photo: Hamad Al Kaabi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has paid a condolence visit to the new President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on the passing of his predecessor, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During the visit, President Buhari expressed his condolences and that of Nigeria to Sheikh Mohamed and congratulated him on his election as President.

He assured the new UAE leader of his determination to do more to ensure the growth of the strategic partnership between Nigeria and the Asian country.

President Buhari also hopes that under Sheikh Mohamed the two countries will continue to actively champion a vision of sustainable security, strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, facilitate trade and investment, and promote prosperity and development.

President Buhari shakes hands with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during the visit. Photo: Hamad Al Kaabi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

 

 

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Saturday that in the seven years of the Buhari administration, the two countries “have actively conducted bilateral dialogues”.

These dialogues, according to him, have led to several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding that have paved the way for further cooperation, mutual understanding and progress in many aspects of their bilateral relations.

President Buhari had left Nigeria for the UAE on Thursday, six days after the death of Sheikh Khalifa.

President Muhammadu Buhari offers condolences to HH Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation (L) during the visit. Photo: Rashed Al Mansoori / Ministry of Presidential Affairs

 

Sheikh Khalifa, who was rarely seen in public died on Friday, May 13 aged 73 after battling illness for several years.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced 40 days of mourning, with flags at half-mast from the day of his death and work was suspended in the public and private sector for the first three days.

Sheikh Khalifa took over as the UAE’s second president in November 2004, succeeding his father as the 16th ruler of Abu Dhabi, the richest of the federation’s seven emirates.

He has rarely been seen in public since 2014, when he had surgery following a stroke, although he has continued to issue rulings. The cause of death was not immediately released.

The UAE, a former British protectorate that was founded in 1971, has gone from a desert outpost to a booming state in its short history, fuelled by its oil wealth and Dubai’s rise as a trading and financial centre.

The Arab world’s second-biggest economy behind Saudi Arabia has also begun to wield growing political influence, filling a space ceded by traditional powers such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

The country of 10 million also joined military campaigns in Libya and Yemen and broke ranks with much of the Arab world to establish ties with Israel in 2020.

The bearded Sheikh Khalifa had cut a frail figure on his occasional public appearances, while his Sheikh Mohamed hosted world leaders and led diplomatic forays abroad.

The late Sheikh Khalifa, who had no formal higher education, led the UAE as Dubai emerged as a tourism and trade hub and Abu Dhabi pumped oil as a key OPEC player.

He came to the rescue of Dubai when it was hit by the global financial crisis in 2009, extending a multi-billion-dollar lifeline to the debt-laden emirate.

It Is Unfair To Say Buhari Ignores Victims Of Attacks In Nigeria – Presidency

Presidential aide Garba Shehu has refuted claims that his principal pays less attention to victims of attacks in the country. 

He spoke on Friday while responding to the debates generated following President Muhammadu Buhari’s condolence visit to the United Arab Emirates over the death of the country’s president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“Those Nigerians should be told that they should look at all of the facts. I have accompanied the president to Sokoto on a condolence visit after a major incident,” the aide said on Channels Television’s Politics Today. 

“However, it is unfair also to make the conclusion wrongly that he had not paid attention or had not visited. He had been to Maiduguri quite a number of times,” he added.

READ ALSONRC Cancels Resumption Of Train Services On Abuja-Kaduna Route

He said: “I accompanied him to Zamfara. He spoke to the governor, parliamentarians, religious and traditional leaders.

“I accompanied the President to Benue State. He addressed the governor in the Government House, Makurdi, after a major incident. I accompanied him to Jos after a crisis.

“So, did the President go to all the places where there have been incidents of violence or killings? No, he did not go.”

“It depends on what Nigerians choose to look at. The president has been responsive and he has been discharging the obligations that rest upon him as the president and commander-in-chief, in dealing with all of these matters. He has not cut short in any way.

“The point I want to make is that the administration has been very responsive. You just mentioned the railway incident in Kaduna, and this last week, the incident in Kano of an explosion.

“The vice-president of Nigeria was in both places. This country has one presidency. If the president is not there on account of engagements and the vice-president is there, let us take it that the presidency of Nigeria has attended to those matters.”

Buhari is expected back to the country this weekend.

Buhari Departs For Abu Dhabi, To Meet New UAE President

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will leave on Thursday for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet with the Asian nation’s new President, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.

Announcing his departure, presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu said the President’s trip is to convey his condolences on the passing of the former president and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.

The President “will also extend his congratulations to the new President, renewing bonds of the longstanding friendship between Nigeria and the UAE.

“The President, in an earlier congratulatory message to the new UAE leader, had reaffirmed Nigeria’s cordial relationship with the country, noting that the cooperation between both governments have helped Nigeria in tracking down illegal assets and tracing terrorist funds.

READ ALSO: Buhari Congratulates New Somali President, Promises Peacekeeping Support

“Under the new leadership, President Buhari looks forward to a bigger and stronger partnership for peace, stability and prosperity of both countries.

“President Buhari will be accompanied by the Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, and the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

“Other members of his delegation are the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Monguno (Rtd) and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.”

The President is expected back in the country on Saturday.

New UAE President Meets Macron As World Leaders Pay Respects

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets the newly-elected president of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on May 15, 2022.
CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP

 

 

The UAE’s new president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held talks Sunday with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as world leaders streamed in to Abu Dhabi to pay tribute to his predecessor.

Macron, who was re-elected this month, expressed his condolences to Sheikh Mohamed following the death of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa, who died on Friday following a long illness.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US Vice President Kamala Harris, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog are also expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi, capital of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, on Sunday and Monday.

Sheikh Mohamed, the UAE’s long-time de facto ruler during Sheikh Khalifa’s illness, was chosen to lead the desert state in a unanimous vote by leaders of the country’s seven emirates on Saturday.

Often known by his initials “MBZ”, took a leading role after Sheikh Khalifa retreated from public view in 2014, when he had surgery after a stroke. The cause of his death was not announced.

Presidents and monarchs from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Oman and Tunisia, and Sudan’s de facto leader, were among a long line of dignitaries to offer their condolences on Saturday.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets the newly-elected president of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (2L) at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on May 15, 2022.
CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP

 

Close ally Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, called to congratulate the new president and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to commend his “dynamic and visionary leadership”.

Both Macron and Johnson are making their second visits to Abu Dhabi in recent months. Johnson’s visit in March failed to convince the UAE and Saudi Arabia to pump more oil after Russia’s war in Ukraine sent markets into turmoil.

The UAE signed a 14-billion-euro contract for 80 Rafale warplanes during Macron’s previous visit in December.

UAE relations with the United States have become strained under President Joe Biden, with the two sides at odds over Abu Dhabi’s close ties with Russia and Washington’s reopening of nuclear talks with Iran, long accused by Gulf states of creating regional chaos.

The wealthy UAE has emerged as a leader of a reshaped Middle East, forging ties with Israel and joining a Saudi-led war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Elected UAE President After Brother’s Death

A handout picture released by UAE’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs shows Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (C) praying during the funeral of late UAE’s President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during his funeral in Abu Dhabi on May 13, 2022. (Photo by Ministry of Presidential Affairs / AFP)

 

 

 

The UAE’s long-time de facto ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected as president on Saturday, official media said, a day after the death of former leader Sheikh Khalifa.

The 61-year-old was unanimously elected by the Federal Supreme Council, WAM news agency said, becoming the ruler of the oil-rich country founded by his father in 1971.

Sheikh Mohamed, often known as “MBZ”, met members of the Federal Supreme Council, made up of rulers of the UAE’s seven emirates, as the country enters a period of mourning for his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa.

Sheikh Mohamed’s ascension, which was widely expected, formalises his position as leader of the desert state of 10 million after years of calling the shots while Sheikh Khalifa was sidelined by poor health.

Under his low-key direction, the United Arab Emirates has put a man into space, sent a probe to Mars and opened its first nuclear reactor, while using its oil-funded clout to develop a more assertive foreign policy.

Closely allied with Saudi Arabia, it has emerged as a leader of a reshaped Middle East since the retreat of traditional Arab powers and the reduced involvement of the United States, forging ties with Israel and joining a war against Iran-backed militants in Yemen.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was quick to offer his congratulations, saying his election would “help reinforce the friendly relations” between the two countries.

Official media had already named Sheikh Mohamed as the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s richest emirate, on Friday, inheriting one of the main titles held by Sheikh Khalifa who died at 73.

– ‘Running the show’ –
Sheikh Mohamed, wearing a light grey kandura or robe, was a pall-bearer at the funeral prayers for Sheikh Khalifa who was laid to rest in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Cemetery just hours after his death was announced, in accordance with Muslim tradition.

Flags are at half-mast around the UAE and businesses and government offices are closed for three days as the country enters a 40-day period of mourning for Sheikh Khalifa, who had ruled since 2004.

Sheikh Khalifa’s death drew condolences from world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Iran, demonstrating the UAE’s diverse allegiances.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron is to travel to Abu Dhabi on Sunday to pay tribute to the late Emirati leader and show support for the new president, his office announced. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is also headed to the UAE, along with Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has put sports and entertainments on hold and several countries have announced periods of mourning.

Sheikh Mohamed, who was named crown prince of Abu Dhabi in November 2004, is the third son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan — the revered founder of the UAE.

He has been serving as deputy commander of the armed forces and chairman of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, which controls the substantial finances of the emirate which sits on 90 percent of the country’s oil production.

The UAE, a former British protectorate, has gone from desert outpost to booming state in its short history, fuelled by its oil wealth and Dubai’s rise as a trading and financial centre.

Sheikh Mohamed took a prominent role after Sheikh Khalifa retreated from public view in 2014, when he had surgery after a stroke. The cause of his death was not announced.

The new president is likely to face greater competition to UAE’s status as the regional financial hub, particularly from Saudi Arabia, and may toughen its stance on Iran, analysts say.

But “functionally it changes little; MBZ has been running the show almost from the get go”, tweeted Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at Stratfor

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Dies At 73

The United Arab Emirates' President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan died aged 73 on Friday, state media said, after battling illness for several years.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 30, 2013, Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan attends a ceremonial welcome for his state visit in the grounds of Windsor Castle, Berkshire, west of London. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed died on May 13, 2022, official media said.
Dan Kitwood / POOL / AFP

 

 

The United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan died aged 73 on Friday, state media said, after battling illness for several years.

The president of the oil-rich Gulf state, who was rarely seen in public, is likely to be replaced by his half-brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who was already seen as the UAE’s de facto ruler.

“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs has mourned to the UAE people, Arab and Islamic nations and the world the death of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan,” the official WAM news agency tweeted.

The ministry announced 40 days of mourning, with flags at half-mast from Friday and work suspended in the public and private sector for the first three days.

Sheikh Khalifa took over as the UAE’s second president in November 2004, succeeding his father as the 16th ruler of Abu Dhabi, the richest of the federation’s seven emirates.

He has rarely been seen in public since 2014, when he had surgery following a stroke, although he has continued to issue rulings. The cause of death was not immediately released.

The UAE, a former British protectorate that was founded in 1971, has gone from a desert outpost to a booming state in its short history, fuelled by its oil wealth and Dubai’s rise as a trading and financial centre.

The Arab world’s second-biggest economy behind Saudi Arabia has also begun to wield growing political influence, filling a space ceded by traditional powers such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

The country of 10 million also joined military campaigns in Libya and Yemen and broke ranks with much of the Arab world to establish ties with Israel in 2020.

The bearded Sheikh Khalifa had cut a frail figure on his occasional public appearances, while his Mohammed bin Zayed hosted world leaders and led diplomatic forays abroad.

“The Emirates has lost its virtuous son and leader of the ‘stage of empowerment’ and the trustee of its blessed journey,” Mohammed bin Zayed tweeted on Friday.

“His stances, achievements, wisdom, generosity and initiatives are in every corner of the nation.. Khalifa bin Zayed, my brother… may God have mercy on you and grant you access to paradise.”

Sheikh Khalifa, who had no formal higher education, led the UAE as Dubai emerged as a tourism and trade hub and Abu Dhabi pumped oil as a key OPEC player.

He came to the rescue of Dubai when it was hit by the global financial crisis in 2009, extending a multi-billion-dollar lifeline to the debt-laden emirate.

-AFP

UAE Summons Israeli Ambassador Over Jerusalem Violence

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on April 15, 2022. AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

 

The UAE has summoned Israel’s ambassador to protest “attacks on civilians” and “incursions” into Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the official WAM news agency said on Tuesday. 

The move follows Israeli-Palestinian clashes in and around the holy site over the weekend that wounded 170 people, mostly Palestinian demonstrators at the hands of Israeli security forces.

The UAE was one of three Arab countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, breaking with decades of Arab consensus that such ties should not precede a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Reem bint Ibrahim al-Hashemy, the UAE’s Minister of State for International Co-operation, conveyed to Israeli ambassador Amir Hayek “strong protest and denunciation of the events taking place in Jerusalem and Al- Aqsa Mosque,” WAM reported.

The UAE denounced “attacks on civilians and incursions into holy places that resulted in the injury of a number of civilians”.

Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, lies in Jerusalem’s Israeli-annexed Old City. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.

The UAE minister also “expressed concern over the escalation of tension that threatens stability and security in the region” and “underscored the need to respect” the role of Jordan as the custodian of east Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Until 2020, Jordan and Egypt were the only Arab countries to normalise ties with Israel.

Similar Israeli-Palestinian violence in and around Al-Aqsa last year triggered an escalation that resulted in an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

AFP

Turkey’s Erdogan Arrives In UAE To Boost Long-Strained Ties

File photo of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

 

 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in the United Arab Emirates Monday for the first time in nearly a decade, to revive relations that were long strained by regional disputes.

Erdogan arrived in the capital Abu Dhabi, where he was greeted by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, reported the official WAM news agency.

Turkey and the oil-rich Emirates have backed opposing sides in the Libyan civil war and in a Gulf diplomatic crisis, and they have sparred over issues such as gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

But those tensions eased after Sheikh Mohammed, the de facto ruler of the UAE, travelled to Ankara in November, the first high-level visit to Turkey since 2012.

That trip “marked the beginning of a new era in relations,” Erdogan told journalists at Istanbul airport before leaving for his two-day trip.

The Turkish president’s visit to the UAE, meanwhile, is his first since 2013, when he was prime minister, and it is his first as head of state.

“We are planning to take steps that will bring relations back to the level they deserve,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey-UAE dialogue and cooperation are “important to the peace and stability in our region”.

His trip comes as the Emirates face a growing threat from Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels, who have launched several drone and missile attacks on the Gulf country, prompting stepped up UAE defence cooperation with the United States and France.

To greet Erdogan on his trip, which will take him to the Expo 2020 Dubai world fair on Tuesday, the host country was lighting up the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in the colours of the Emirati and Turkish flags.

Following Sheikh Mohammed’s visit in November, the UAE announced a $10 billion fund for investments in Turkey, where the economy has been reeling and inflation last month surged to a near 20-year high.

– ‘Peace and prosperity’ –
During this week’s visit, Erdogan was expected to sign 12 agreements with UAE partners, ranging from media and communications to economic and defence deals, Turkish media reports said.

His trip “will open a new, positive page in bilateral relations,” Anwar Gargash, adviser to the UAE president, said in a tweet.

Erdogan said in a weekend op-ed in the Emirati English-language daily Khaleej Times that “Turkey and the UAE together can contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

“As Turkey, we do not separate the security and stability of the UAE and our other brothers in the Gulf region from the security and stability of our own country.

“We believe wholeheartedly in the importance of deepening our cooperation in this context in the future.”

Turkey-UAE relations were particularly tense after Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Bahrain in 2017 cut all links with Qatar, a close ally of Ankara. Those relations were restored in January 2021.

Erdogan has since last year sought to improve ties with regional rivals in the face of increasing diplomatic isolation that has caused foreign investment to dry up, particularly from the West.

Last month he said he would visit Saudi Arabia in February, the first trip to Riyadh since relations soured over the 2018 murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

In the op-ed this weekend, Erdogan said Turkey also wanted to advance cooperation with the UAE on several fronts, including tackling “climate change, water and food security”.

“I believe that both sides are eager to set new targets for further investment and cooperation,” he said, predicting benefits “at the regional level”.

Turkey-UAE trade topped 26.4 billion dirhams ($7.2 billion) in the first half of 2021. The UAE hopes to double or triple trade volume with Turkey, which it sees as a route to new markets.

About 400 Emirati companies operate in Turkey, the UAE’s 11th largest trading partner, WAM said.

Abdul Khaleq Abdallah, a political science professor in the UAE, tweeted on Sunday that the two countries should aim to bolster a “strategic political partnership”.