Challenges are the foundation of diplomatic work: UAE envoy Fatma Al Mazrouei

Joydeep Sen Gupta/Dubai
Filed on May 18, 2021
Photo: Supplied

The UAE's Ambassador to Denmark hailed the commitment of both countries to strengthen economic and trade cooperation in key sectors.

Fatma Al Mazrouei, the UAE's Ambassador to Denmark, is one of the rare women diplomats in a young Arab nation that is taking ambitious strides in women’s empowerment and tolerance.

Khaleej Times recently caught up with Al Mazrouei for an exclusive interview. Excerpts below:

What are the major challenges for you as the UAE's Ambassador to Denmark?

Diplomacy is a soft power mechanism through which parties can reach solutions to shared challenges through peaceful negotiation, dialogue, and the exchange of experiences. As a result, challenges are the foundation of diplomatic work.

The latest challenge was linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, as Denmark temporarily suspended flights from the UAE due to technical details related to conducting tests for the viral outbreak. We viewed this as a wonderful opportunity to engage in intensive bilateral talks with Denmark and open the skies for UAE aviation as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, there are many opportunities — especially as both the UAE and Denmark are small countries with a globally ambitious outlook. The Kingdom of Denmark is a pioneer in several areas in which the UAE is heavily involved, such as sustainable energy, innovative research and education, the digitalisation of services, and social welfare. We're keen to learn from our Danish partners in this regard, and the UAE Embassy in Copenhagen spares no effort to strengthen bilateral cooperation to achieve this goal.

What are your priorities in bilateral ties? Which areas would you like to tackle first and why?

The UAE Embassy had two priorities: first, earning Denmark’s support for the UAE’s nomination for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for the 2022-2023 term, and secondly, receiving Denmark’s official announcement on its participation in Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Government of Denmark has declared its support for the UAE’s nomination to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) based on the agreement of reciprocal support, which means that our country will lend its support to Denmark’s candidature for the UNSC for the 2025-2026 term.

The Danish Business Pavilion will be representing Danish companies at Expo 2020 Dubai, and we, as an embassy, will continue our efforts to encourage the official announcement of Denmark’s participation in the Expo, a marquee event for the world to sit and take note of our young nation's ambitious goals.

Denmark is the UAE’s only partner in carbon diplomacy. How do you plan to take the engagement forward amid the UAE playing a leading role in global climate change and sustainability initiatives? How can the UAE benefit from Denmark's renewable energy expertise?

Denmark is a small country in size, yet considered by many a global frontrunner in the green transition. Today, more than 30 per cent of Denmark’s energy needs come from renewables. Experts expect to reach 50 per cent by 2030, and by 2050, Denmark aims to be 100 per cent independent of fossil fuels.

The UAE is Denmark’s partner in carbon diplomacy. There are many possibilities worth exploring to strengthen this partnership. For example, Denmark is working towards the transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon, and resource-efficient world.

How can Denmark help the UAE to a greener future?

An important partner would be the State of Green due to its wide network. The State of Green is a non-profit, public-private partnership (PPP) that makes Denmark’s knowledge, experience, and solutions available to the rest of the world, particularly within the energy, water, cities, and circular economy sectors. The State of Green has a partnership agreement with the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), and I highly recommend that other emirates explore opportunities for similar partnerships.

I also recommend an energy partnership between the Danish Energy Agency and its Emirati counterpart. Since 2012, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) has entered into partnerships with 16 countries, including China, India, the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. The UAE Embassy is currently engaged in dialogue with the DEA to explore possibilities for similar partnerships.

Denmark cooperates with foreign governments by exchanging ideas on how to transform energy sectors to reach national targets for greenhouse gas reductions pledged at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in 2015. The DEA cooperates bilaterally with these countries in their transition away from polluting greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time maintaining stable economic growth.

What is the current figure of bilateral trade between the UAE and Denmark? What are the sectors where the trade can see a significant uptick?

Total imports into Denmark from the UAE in 2018 and 2019 increased from $114 million to nearly $399 million. Total exports from Denmark to the UAE also increased from $396 million in 2018 to $446 million in 2019. Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, our two countries are committed to working together to strengthen economic and trade cooperation in key sectors.

Denmark’s competitive advantage lies in its development and use of green energy. Public and private sector cooperation in developing technologies, know-how, and policies within the energy efficiency sectors has enabled Denmark to excel in its green transition, specifically within the areas of wind energy, district heating, bioenergy, and biofuels, as well as water and energy efficiency.

The UAE has also initiated sustainable development in the country and focused on environmental conservation through clean energy, green development, and alternative eco-friendly solutions to address water and electricity needs. It is in these sectors that the trade between our two countries can experience continued growth.

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