Exclusive: 300% growth in bilateral trade with UAE reflects Afro-Arab historical partnership: President of Zimbabwe
By Binsal Abdulkader
DUBAI, 18th March, 2022 – A 300 percent jump in Zimbabwe-UAE bilateral trade during the past three years and corresponding growth in overall ties reflect the historical partnership between Africa and the Arab world, President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
“The relations between Zimbabwe and the UAE are growing so fast in all sectors. Three years ago, our bilateral trade was around $US400 million [only], but it jumped in 2021 to US$1.6 billion, and the UAE has now become Zimbabwe’s second-largest trading partner,” he said.
Speaking to WAM on Tuesday in Dubai, during his three-day official visit to the UAE, Mnangagwa said he and his people still cherished a helping hand from the UAE leadership at a crucial time, which was a turning point in the relations.
Turning point in relations
On the second day of his three-day state visit to the UAE in March 2019, a Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe. “So, I cut short my visit and rushed back home because, sadly, it had caused a lot of destruction of property and lives. We lost over 600 people and another 600 disappeared,” the president recollected.
“Then, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, sent two planeloads of humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, which went a long way in helping our people and mitigate the impact of the cyclone. So, thereafter the relations grew faster and faster and deepened, and now the UAE is the second-largest trading partner of Zimbabwe,” explained Mnangagwa who became the president in 2018, after the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign.
In 2019, the UAE provided AED18.3 million in emergency aid to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, following the devastation incurred by Cyclone Idai that has affected more than 1.5 million people.
Mnangagwa was in Time’s list of 100 most influential people in 2018.
He met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday and reviewed advancing the bilateral relations.
Afro-Arab historical partnership
The growing relations between the two countries reflect the centuries-old cultural links between the two continents, especially between the two regions – Southern Africa and the Arabian Gulf. “Yes, of course, this historical relationship has always been there between Africa and the Arab world,” Mnangagwa pointed out.
Many other southern African nations are also strengthening their relationship with the UAE, he noted.
There are prospects of growth and development in Africa. “What we lack is not resources. What we lack is technology. We lack skills. We lack investment. These things are found here [in the UAE],” the president said about the potential synergy between two partners and invited investors from the UAE to invest in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is expecting the UAE’s support for agriculture, mining and infrastructure development, and the promotion of science, technology and innovation in universities and healthcare sector. “All these areas we have discussed [in bilateral talks]. We are looking forward to stronger and deeper cooperation in those areas.”
Expats, ‘Expo’ support ties
Around 5,000 Zimbabweans are living in the UAE and the president had an interaction with the community in Dubai during his visit. Most of them are professionals in the hotel industry and banking sector, and some are engineers and pilots, and they also contribute to the growing relations, the president said.
Mnangagwa attended the Zimbabwean National Day celebrations at the Expo 2020 Dubai.
“Since 192 world nations are participating in the event, every country is able to learn what other countries are doing and showcase one’s own opportunities for others. This [Expo] is just one beautiful world built here in Dubai,” he remarked.