The bond of brotherhood
Abdul Farid Zikria, Afghanistan Ambassador to the UAE
The UAE and Afghanistan's bilateral ties are growing. Afghanistan Ambassador to the UAE, Abdul Farid Zikria, highlights the efforts from both sides
Although formal relations between Afghanistan and the UAE was established in 1973, the bond was created during the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet invasion.
Under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Government and the people of the UAE supported the Afghan people in their struggle against the Red Army.
Following the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Embassy in Abu Dhabi was established in 1993.
In the year 2002, bilateral relations were renewed and both countries established their embassies in each other's capitals.
I presented my credentials to the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on February 7, 2005, as the first full-fledged Ambassador, representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the UAE.
This was my first term as Ambassador in the UAE. After working in the private sector for almost seven years, I was once again appointed as Ambassador to the UAE, for the second time, by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in January 2016.
We greatly appreciate the UAE's interest in Afghanistan and their support for international and regional efforts for peace, reconstruction and development in Afghanistan.
The tireless efforts of the UAE's leaders towards strengthening of the relationship with Afghanistan are viewed highly by us.
Traditionally, we have always enjoyed sound economic relations with the UAE. Afghan export to the UAE is currently low, but there is considerable potential for posting rise in the coming years.
A large chunk, over 90 per cent, of Afghan exports is accounted for by fresh and dry fruit as well as the hand-made carpets.
Re-exports constitute some 80 per cent of the total non-oil UAE exports to Afghanistan. Afghanistan and the UAE have also signed an agreement for cooperation in the field of manpower.
Investment and joint ventures
Throughout the history, Afghanistan has been a robust transit nation in the heart of Asia. It has been a vital trade route and centre of business where the Middle East meets Southern, Central and Southeast Asia.
Investment in Afghanistan is seen as an excellent opportunity for many to take advantage of the low production costs.
Roads and bridges to connect central Asian countries to Afghanistan have been constructed in the last few years to further grow the trade with the neighbouring nations.
Many individual success stories of thriving businesses reflect the positive development in the country. The Afghan community residing in the UAE has bilaterally contributed to the economy of this country.
Over 1,000 affluent Afghan businessmen have invested in the UAE and have an estimated total asset of more than $15 billion.
It is worth noting that the UAE has also shown interest in investing in Afghanistan specially in telecommunication, energy and agricultural areas.
The UAE's largest telecom company, Etisalat, has been operating in Afghanistan since 2008. We believe that the UAE investment in Afghanistan in sectors such as agriculture, power generation, urban development, oil and gas, and mining will toss up great business opportunities.
In the past four years, Afghan President, Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, has visited the UAE four times, while many Afghan Cabinet Ministers and the National Security Advisor have visited the country over a dozen of times. This trend of high-level visits from Afghanistan is set to continue.
Afghanistan is a country of many civilisations, religious and cultural diversity. The Embassy is planning to hold some cultural events in the coming months.
The UAE is a popular holiday and transit destination for Afghans. Its central location, lifestyle and availability of various services, makes it a destination of choice for Afghan travellers.
Direct flights between Afghanistan and the UAE are the main reason for the growth in tourism. Currently, there are five daily flights operating between Afghanistan and the UAE.
Due to the high demand, the frequency of flights will be increased in the near future.
However, tourism that was once a thriving industry has been greatly affected by the ongoing conflict in the country.
With the establishment of peace and security in most parts of the country, and with the tourism infrastructure being rehabilitated, we expect an increase in tourists in the years ahead.
Fight against terrorism
Afghanistan, being directly affected by terrorism for countless years, has been in the forefront of the fight against terrorism.
The Afghan people have paid a very high price in defeating communism in the 80s and are once again paying dearly to defeat the menace of terrorism.
It's very important to realise that similar to the war against communism, the war against terrorism has a global impact and thus, its defeat will only liberate the world from its threat.
Afghanistan and the UAE have similar views and concerns on matters related to the fighting of terrorism.
We both understand that what happens in our region affects us all. The UAE, under the wise leadership of The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been a stable country in a troubled region.
Recognising the fact that the UAE more than ever before plays a significant role in the politics of the region, we place high importance to the UAE's views on ways and means to fight terrorism.
Afghan nationals in the UAE
A strong community of about 120,000 Afghans is present in the UAE. The community here comprises labourers in construction and agricultural sectors (about 80 per cent), traders and businessmen (19 per cent) and professionals (one per cent).
The largest Afghan community is located in Al Ain, followed by Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Approximately 50 per cent of the total Afghan trade is controlled by the Afghan businessmen residing in the UAE. They are well represented in the trade, food, carpet and real estates' businesses among others.
The Afghan Embassy and the Consulate General in Dubai provide several services for Afghans such as passports, notaries and defending their rights, etc.
With the support from the Embassy, the Afghan business community in Dubai established its first-ever business council in 2007.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Independence Day of Afghanistan, I would like to extend my warm greetings and felicitations to all the Afghan expatriates living in the Gulf countries and especially in the UAE.
Afghanistan has made significant progress in many areas with support from friends like the UAE. This march towards peace and prosperity would not have been possible if such generous support were not extended by our friends worldwide.
After decades of stagnation, our civil society is once again vibrant; our economy is more dependent on local revenues, and we will soon become a hub of trade in the region.
In spite of these achievements, we have a long road with significant challenges ahead of us. Above all the challenges, terrorism represents the gravest of threats.
The fight against terrorism requires close cooperation and understanding between us all.
A stable, secure and strong Afghanistan is in the interests of the region and the world.
We must keep up this spirit of unity and continue the march towards peace, development and prosperity in the region and in the world.
On behalf of the people and Government of Afghanistan, I would like to express our most sincere gratitude and appreciation to the people and Government of the UAE, especially to The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for their support and interest in our peace, stability and prosperity.
|KNOW THE NATION:|
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
647,500 sq km
34 million (2018 est.)
Capital and Largest City
Kabul with population of about 4 million
Monetary Unit Afghani (afs)
(78 afs = $1)
Pashtu, Dari, Turkmani, Uzbaki and Pashahi
GDP/PPP (2017 est.): $20.4 billion; GDP Real Growth Rate: 2.7%; and Inflation: 5%.
Wheat, Fruits, Nuts, Wool, Mutton, Sheepskins, Lambskins
Natural Gas, Petroleum, Coal, Copper, Chromite, Lithium, Uranium, Talc, Barites, Sulfur, Lead, Zinc, Iron Ore, Salt, Precious and Semi-Precious Stones
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan