UAE, Japan celebrate 35 years of friendship

ABU DHABI — The UAE and Japan are celebrating 35 years of friendship this year.

by

Silvia Radan

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Published: Sun 11 Feb 2007, 9:25 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:28 AM

According to the Japanese Embassy in Abu Dhabi, on December 2, 1971, a day after signing the Federation Act, Japan was among the first countries to recognise the newly born UAE.

Two years later, the UAE Embassy was opened in Tokyo and in 1974, the Japanese Embassy was established in Abu Dhabi. Political, economical and cultural relations between the two countries have been exemplary ever since.

The UAE’s great economic potential, stability, comfortable living conditions, advanced infrastructure and excellent business incentives have been attracting a number of Japanese businessmen and individuals over the years.

In fact, the UAE hosts the largest Japanese community in the Middle East and Africa, with over 1,100 Japanese people living in the UAE and around 180 Japanese companies operating here.

According to Akira Saiki, the cultural attaché of the Japanese Embassy here, trade relations between the two countries began in the early 60s, soon after the discovery of oil in Abu Dhabi.

“Though the volume of trade exchange between Japan and the UAE has been swinging, mainly as a result of fluctuating crude oil prices, Japan maintained its position as the UAE’s largest trade partner,” said Saiki.

Last year, exports from the Nippon country to the Emirates were over $6 billion, the main products being transport equipment, machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical equipment. The UAE exports to Japan, though, reached over $35 billion, mostly oil, gas and hydrocarbon products.

The cooperation between the two countries extended far beyond trade. For a good number of years, the Japan International Cooperation Agency has been offering technical assistance to the UAE in the fields of mangrove plantation, marine culture and other related areas.

Metro deal

In July 2005, an agreement has been reached between Dubai Municipality and Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Obayashi Corporation and Kajima Corporation for building the Dubai Metro, which will provide the city with environment friendly, smooth and reliable transport system.

Another important achievement was the opening of Japan Bank for International Cooperation in Dubai early last year, which is only the second branch in the Middle East and it is expected to cover eight countries in the region.

As early as 1998, an Air Service Agreement was signed between the two countries, which led to the operation of 21 direct flights per week from the UAE to Japan. The Emirates airline also began a regular non-stop flight from Dubai to Osaka.

In the academic field too, there have been exchanges between the two countries, especially at higher education levels.

A scholarship programme run by the Japanese government enables UAE nationals to study in Japanese universities since 1990, with a similar programmed organised for undergraduates from 2003.

Through the Secondary School Educators’ Study Tour Programme, three teachers from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah were able to travel to Japan, where they learnt about the country’s educational system, culture and society. According to Saiki, last year the Nippon government has launched a similar programme, this time specially for GCC educationists.

“So far, four teachers from the Abu Dhabi Educational Zone visited Japan through this programme,” said the cultural attaché.

He added that the Embassy also holds cultural events such as Japanese traditional musical concerts, Ikebana (flower arrangement) workshop, Kimono shows and karate demonstrations.

“Right now we are busy organising a few activities which will take place in the coming weeks,” Saiki told Khaleej Times, adding that these will include a calligraphy demonstration, wadaiko (Japanese drum concert), a violin and piano concerto and a robotics workshop.

Another future project deals with the translation of some Japanese books into Arabic. Some of the books written by well-known Japanese authors are available in the UAE in English, but only a handful are available in Arabic.



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