Guyana pitches itself as new strategic partner for UAE

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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The Irfaan Ali- led government is eyeing investments from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help realise the country’s developmental agenda and in so doing, he has pitched Guyana as a new strategic partner for the UAE.

At a short press conference held in Dubai, UAE, where a world expo is being hosted, President Dr. Irfaan Ali told local Dubai journalists and officials that Guyana has an “enormous potential” with its abundant natural resources to satisfy domestic and international needs.

“… that potential would remain enormous if we don’t implement the type of programmes and policies that would drive this potential,” he said. And it is for this reason, the Head of State explained that Guyana has been talking up the myriad of investment opportunities and incentives available.

These investments are available to all high-quality investors but President Ali said that there has been a particular interest in cooperating with the UAE since this country has already proven that it can ably exploit its natural resource wealth and transform its economy.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali engaging UAE Minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan before he addressed the Guyana National Day observance at the Expo2020 in Dubai (Photo: Office of the President/ October 19, 2021)

For context, the UAE has had large oil reserves like Guyana but it was strived to diversify its economy using innovative technologies to develop specialised services. The UAE has since been able to transform itself into one of the richer countries of the world. And, President Ali said that the UAE can share its experiences since Guyana is now seeking to use oil wealth to similarly transform its economy.

“… that is where the experience at the bilateral level remains important,” he said.

It is not that Guyana is seeking investments from the UAE government and private sector only, however. In fact, President Ali says that Guyana can provide opportunities for the UAE too.

The UAE is positioned in the Middle East while Guyana is quite in South America. President Ali, however, said, “(The UAE) can now look down in South America and see a new strategic partner.”

He explained that Guyana’s position in South America allows access to Brazil and Suriname for example, while the country is well-connected to the Caribbean.

Importantly, too, the President said that Guyana’s agricultural prowess can help to ensure that potential food security challenges in the UAE can be mitigated.

“Let us see how Guyana can support your food security agenda and that of the region, matching your resources, investment with land and that is the kind of visionary approach we want to create moving forward,” Dr. Ali posited.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali addressing officials and other members of the audience at the Expo2020 in Dubai (Photo: Office of the President/ October 19, 2021)

Meanwhile, Dr. Ali also assured potential investors that Guyana’s longstanding challenges of the high cost of energy and inadequate infrastructures are all being addressed. These challenges, he noted, have deterred investment in the past.

With those challenges surmounted, however, he said that the way would be clear for greater bilateral and private sector cooperation and engagement.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond highlighted that there are several attractive areas for investment.

Dr. Singh said these include the energy sector, tourism, information and communications technology including Business process outsourcing, agro-processing and agri-business.

Meanwhile, Minister Walrond expanded on the tourism and hospitality opportunities available indicating that even in the midst of the pandemic, Guyana has had an excess demand for quality hotel rooms.

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