UAE, Mexico: Sharing excellent relations
Mohammed Mir Al Raisi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with Francisca Escobar, Ambassador of Mexico to the UAE.
Dubai - Given the vast importance of food in Mexican culture, cuisine plays an important role in Mexico's soft diplomacy in the UAE and the wider region.
The relationship between Mexico and the UAE is "excellent", with the Mexican embassy working on a variety of partnerships to promote Mexican culture, art and cuisine in the country, according to Mexican Ambassador Francisca Elizabeth Mendez Escobar.
In an interview with Khaleej Times ahead of Mexico's Independence Day on September 16, Escobar noted that the embassy's efforts are "targeting different audiences" in the UAE, and has so far included Mexican movie nights for students, art installations for the 'Day of the Dead', and conferences on Mexican culture.
Given the vast importance of food in Mexican culture, cuisine plays an important role in Mexico's soft diplomacy in the UAE and the wider region.
"Given the vast array of excellent restaurants in the UAE, we have made synergies to bring Mexican chefs and offer Mexican-themed food weeks," she noted, adding that later this month, Michelin star chef Carlos Gaytán - one of Mexico's most prominent chefs - will be in the UAE for a Mexican food week.
"Since traditional Mexican cuisine was inscribed in 2010 on Unesco's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, our country promotes our gastronomy through an official platform that builds on local partnerships worldwide," she added.
Additionally, Escobar noted that the Mexican embassy hopes to take advantage of the blossoming cultural scene in Abu Dhabi. "In the context of the approaching opening of world-class museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District, our embassy is exploring the possibility of bringing a large scale cultural exhibition that shows the diversity and intensity of Mexican culture," she said. "We are also working together with the main universities in the UAE to achieve a greater exchange of students, academics and researchers."
A history of close tiesMexico's relationship with the UAE dates back to 1975, when diplomatic relations between the two countries were formally established. In 2008, Mexico opened a consulate in Dubai, which was followed in 2010 by the opening of the UAE's embassy in Mexico and the opening of the Mexican embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2012.
The warm relationship between the two countries was starkly highlighted in January 2016, when Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto became the first Mexican president to visit the UAE. Two years prior, in April 2014, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, visited Mexico, as did His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, in 2009 and 2012.
"The current state of our relations is excellent. The remarkable reciprocal high-level visits have allowed us to develop a relationship of mutual trust, shared values, and discover potential economic and cooperative partnerships," she noted. "During the state visit of President Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico and the UAE signed several agreements covering practically all areas of collaboration, (such as) double taxation, tourism, education, clean energy and the energy sector, and banking."
Escobar added that approximately 1,500 Mexican nationals currently call the UAE home, working in a variety of sectors - particularly aviation, with over 100 Mexican pilots plying their trade for Etihad, Emirates, flydubai and Air Arabia.
"There is also an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate students, mostly in foreign institutions of higher education established in the UAE," she added.
In terms of economic ties, Escobar noted that bilateral trade has increased an astounding 473 per cent over the span of ten years, from $90 million in 2006 to $519 million in 2016. According to Mexico's Ministry of Economy, the UAE is Mexico's principal trading partner in the Arab World, and the UAE's second most significant trading partner in Latin America, behind only Brazil.
Looking to the future With an eye towards promoting visits to Mexico by UAE resident, Escobar noted that the embassy has been "working to clear all the legal and administrative procedures to enable a direct flight to Mexico City."
"We will also continue working in order to boost the links of our business communities, increase cooperation and investment in the energy sector, expand the collaboration between academic institutions by a continuous exchange of students, academics, and researchers, and promote the exchange between our peoples through the powerful instrument of culture," she added.