Ukrainian envoy says ties with UAE broadening
Ukrainian Ambassador to the UAE Yuriy Polurez
Dubai - Over 11,000 Ukrainians currently call the UAE home, attracted by the lifestyle, high living standards, infrastructure, security levels and the eternal summer
The UAE has become a 'key partner' for Ukraine with a relationship now spanning 25 years, according to Ukrainian Ambassador to the UAE Yuriy Polurez.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, ahead of the Ukrainian community's Independence Day celebrations on August 24, Ambassador Polurez noted that Ukraine "considers cooperation with the UAE one of its strategic priorities of its foreign and economic policy in the Middle East.
"There are 24 bilateral agreements and memoranda already concluded between our countries," he said. "Other 15 bilateral documents are currently under consideration."
The Ukraine Embassy in the UAE officially opened its doors in 1994, which was followed by a consulate in Dubai in 2012. The UAE, for its part, opened its embassy in Ukraine in 2013.
According to Polurez, the ties between the two countries were cemented in 2015, with the visit of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex) in Abu Dhabi, in which Ukrainian companies signed military deals worth 'tens of millions' of dollars.
"During his meetings with the leaders of the UAE, the facilitation of the UAE investments in Ukraine and cooperation in all spheres was discussed, he noted. "The scope of cooperation between Ukraine and the UAE was significantly broadened. There was an important agreement on military and technical cooperation, and last year the treat and legal basis for Ukraine-UAE military cooperation was fully established."
Home to 11,000 people
Polurez noted that over 11,000 Ukrainians currently call the UAE home and that the number is expected to grow.
"They work in different spheres from hospitality and entertainment to IT and financial services," he said. "Luxury lifestyles, high living standards, excellent infrastructure, high security levels and the eternal summer attract a lot of Ukrainians."
"Until recently, the Ukrainian community was fragmented, fringe and not organised," he added. "But during the last three years, it became more united, cohesive and active. New bodies, structures and communication platforms have been created."
As an example, the ambassador noted that the UAE is now home to a Ukrainian Business Council, Ukrainian children's and book clubs, an even a Ukrainian school.
"The Embassy of Ukraine regularly assists the Ukrainian community in the UAE in organising social gatherings, picnics, safaris, sport activities, intellectual games and film shows," he added.
Single entry visa for Emiratis
Polurez noted that a "growing" number of visitors from the UAE are joining the millions of foreign tourists that go to Ukraine every year.
"This number has almost tripled in the last year compared with the previous year, and reached almost 1,000 Emiratis," he explained. "We expect the number of UAE nationals will continue to grow, especially if we sign the agreement between the governments of Ukraine and the UAE on the mutual abolition of visa requirements. The work on this agreement has started this year."
The UAE nationals, he said, can obtain a single entry tourism visa valid for 15 days on arrival in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, as well as at the international airport and commercial seaport in the coastal city of Odessa.
Time for next step
According to the ambassador, the Ukraine-UAE economic cooperation has recently shown sign of "intensification", with Ukrainian exports to the UAE increasing by almost 60 per cent during the first five months of 2017.
"We expect that by the end of the year, the volume of bilateral trade will surpass the level of 2016," he added. "This is the first we have an increase in trade since 2013, and there are all the prerequisites for a further upward trend.given all the steps our governments undertake in the economic field, this tendency will continue in the years ahead."
Polurez added that he believes "it is now time" to move towards fields of mutual interest to both countries, such as energy, infrastructure development, biotechnology, space exploration, and the IT sector, and noted that 250 companies have Ukrainian executives as stakeholders in Dubai alone.
Looking towards the future of the UAE-Ukraine relations, Polurez added that the "priority of bilateral relations at present time could be the implementation of joint projects in the spheres of energy, aviation, shipbuilding, metallurgy, industrial and agricultural machinery and chemical and mining industries."
"Other beneficial fields of cooperation could be science and technology, aerospace, transport infrastructure, agriculture, education and tourism," he added.
I-Day preparations in full swing
Independence Day is the main state holiday of Ukraine, and commemorates the country's declaration of independence that was enacted on August 24, 1991.
According to Yuriy Polurez, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UAE, Independence Day "is a big celebration that unites crowds of people", many of them waving Ukrainian flags and dressed in "vyshyvanka" - traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts.
The occasion is also marked by large-scale military parades, flag hoisting ceremonies, as well as concerts, outdoor exhibitions, circuses, public fairs, sporting events and fireworks.
"In conclusion, I would like to say "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the UAE! Glory to our heroes!" Happy Independence Day, Ukraine!" the ambassador said.