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President Ma meets Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates

President Ma Ying-jeou on the morning of February 11 met with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum from the Emirate of Dubai of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The president extended a cordial welcome to Sheikh Ahmed on his visit to Taiwan and explained the development of ROC-UAE relations in recent years. He also expressed his hope for a continued advancement of bilateral interaction and cooperation.

President Ma stated that the UAE is a transportation hub in light of its location between Africa, Europe, and Asia. The UAE, he remarked, has adopted an economic strategy that stresses rapid liberalization and is also one of the most important trading partners of Taiwan. Sheikh Ahmed, President Ma noted, not only serves as Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, but is also President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. In the past, he noted, no carrier from a Middle East nation has ever operated a direct passenger flight to Taiwan. However, the commencement of Emirates' non-stop flight starting February 10 opens a new page in history, he commented. With the opening of the new route, the time needed to fly between Dubai and Taipei will be only slightly over seven hours, he said. This will not only boost convenience in dealings between the two sides, but also be conducive to strengthening interaction and exchanges between the two countries and even the people of both regions, the president noted.

As for the current state of bilateral relations, President Ma said that while Taipei and Dubai constitute only two points in the trend of globalization, the UAE and Taiwan both have the ambition and are taking the initiative to become two important links that cannot be ignored in the move towards globalization. He noted that the UAE has bountiful natural resources, along with tourism and cultural resources. Taiwan, he said, has consistently placed considerable importance on the development of its relations with the UAE, adding that Taiwan has a representative office in Dubai and that interaction between the two sides is both friendly and close.

With respect to energy and economic and trade relations, the president stated, Taiwan imports nearly 70,000 barrels of crude oil from the UAE on a daily basis, which comprises roughly 6% of Taiwan's total crude imports. Trade between the two countries in 2012 reached US$6.28 billion, which was up 7.14% from the previous year, he said, further noting that bilateral trade grew by over 4% in 2013. This makes the UAE Taiwan's 18th largest trading partner, he remarked. In addition, nearly 50 companies from Taiwan, involved in the shipping, petrochemical engineering and construction, electronics, communications, and tire industries, have invested and set up operations in the UAE, he noted. Some have even established regional operations centers there to handle business from nearby Central Asian and North African nations, which further points to the close relations between Taiwan and the UAE, the president stated.

President Ma said that Taiwan is an important gateway to trade and investment in East Asia and mainland China. Consequently, the direct flight operated by Emirates to Taiwan will help to bring together the enormous markets near to Taiwan and the UAE. He expressed confidence that bilateral cooperation in the future in economics, trade, and tourism will help to pave the way to unlimited business opportunities. The president said that at present Taiwanese make over 10 million visits overseas each year for tourism, adding that he welcomes Dubai to establish an organization in Taiwan to promote tourism. He also expressed hope that the two sides can promote various visa-related measures on a mutual basis that would boost dealings and interaction between people of both sides.

President Ma stressed that the UAE and Taiwan each have their respective strengths in economic development experiences. Taiwan, he said, possesses outstanding technology in construction, automobiles, aerospace, solar power, LEDs, and agricultural biotechnology, and that it is pleased to share its successful development experiences with the UAE and other friendly nations. He expressed hope that both sides in the future, based on the principle of mutually beneficial business relations, will continue to deepen their cooperation and interaction.

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