Nyore Madzianike Senior Reporter
A high ranking United Arab Emirates (UAE) official, Sheik Fayez Muhamad Salem Sultan Al Qassimi, arrived in the country yesterday to discuss various investment opportunities with President Mnangagwa, as the two countries continue to strengthen trade ties.
Sheik Sultan Al Qassimi is a member of the ruling family of Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, one of the world’s wealthiest states.
He becomes one of the many global leaders who have responded to the Government’s investment promotion drive under the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
Sheik Sultan Al Qassimi, came at the invitation of the First Family and is expected to meet President Mnangagwa and senior Government officials this week.
Speaking soon after landing at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare yesterday, Sheik Sultan Al Qassimi, thanked the President for the special invitation and expressed his keenness to invest in the country and to explore ways Zimbabwe can benefit from the UAE.
“We would like to thank the President and his wife for this invitation and this is our first time to visit Zimbabwe. We are looking forward to co-operation with Zimbabwe on a lot of projects,” he said.
Sheik Sultan Al Qassimi said their visit was also aimed at strengthening the long trading relationship existing between Zimbabwe and the UAE.
He said Zimbabwe had vast investment opportunities.
“Zimbabwe and the Emirates have a long time relationship and we came here to support the relations that have been existing before. We want to try and support the relations that the two Governments have,” he said.
The UAE wanted to roll out projects in Zimbabwe as soon as the Emirates agreed with President Mnangagwa on how to implement the projects.
“Zimbabwe is a great country and we always look for cooperation and supporting the President of Zimbabwe and his Government.
“We are going to discuss with the President to see how we will support the Government whether it is with medicine or other things. We are ready for cooperation and there are international companies who are willing to come to Zimbabwe for health care projects,” he said.
Sheik Sultan Al Qassimi said he will also hold a meeting with the First Lady, Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa, to see how they could assist her Angel of Hope Foundation.
“We want to assist the Angel of Hope Foundation but first, we are going to meet the President to seek his opinion on health care projects.
“The projects will run as soon as possible. There were a lot of meetings held before we came here to prepare for the meeting with the President,” he said.
The UAE is the second largest economy in the gulf region after Saudi Arabia, with a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of US$414.2 billion.
Zimbabwe’s relations with the UAE have been strengthening since the coming in of the Second Republic with President Mnangagwa visiting the Middle East in March last year where he met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The two leaders discussed ongoing cooperation levels between the two countries in areas such as investment, the economy, regional and international issues of common interest.
President Mnangagwa, who had to cut his visit after Cyclone Idai ravaged the eastern parts of the country, returned to the UAE in November last year with a high-powered delegation to attend the Global Business Forum on Africa (GBFA) which was held in Dubai.
He attended the forum at the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of
the UAE and ruler of Dubai, one of the emirates making up the UAE.
Since his visits to the UAE, Zimbabwe has received a lot of assistance worth millions of dollars in the form of plane loads of donations for people in Chimanimani and Chipinge in Manicaland, who were most affected by the cyclone.
The UAE has been instrumental in helping to strengthen the country’s health system and has also donated medical supplies and accessories to fight Covid-19.
On the business front UAE, which is a major producer of fuel and gas and is a major buyer of diamonds and gold from Zimbabwe, has expressed an interest in investing in a number of sectors in Zimbabwe, notably the energy and health sectors.
The deepening of relations have seen the country appointing Dr Jetro Ndombondayi Ndlovu as its first Ambassador to the oil-rich nation.