Kyrgyzstan|politics|April 15, 2016 / 11:20 AM
Former Consul General of Kyrgyzstan to UAE on diplomatic ties with Arab region (interview)

AKIPRESS.COM - 405729.1460636002_0 Amid current working visit of the high-ranking delegation from the United Arab Emirates led by Minister of Energy Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei to Bishkek, Tazabek had a talk with the former Consul General of Kyrgyzstan to the UAE Kubanychbek Omuraliyev on the diplomatic ties with Arab region.

- What are the fruitful results, if any, from the last-year trip of President Almazbek Atambayev to the Arab region?

- Well, the visit of Minister of Energy Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei to Bishkek is one of the outcomes of Atambayev's visit. The last visit of Atambayev to the Emirates has indeed become historic: there were deals signed, the ties strengthened, the personal contacts established.

The sides have also established air links, which is crucial for the development of bilateral relations and attracting investments. But you should have in mind that among the Arab countries Kyrgyzstan has air links with only the Emirates, which have already become a bridge to the Persian Gulf and the entire world thanks to the infrastructure possibilities of Dubai.

In the period of 2012-2015, authorities in Kyrgyzstan were able to step up the legal cooperation with the Emirates on the protection of the rights of our citizens, the necessary legal basis has been established having in mind that there was none until 2012.

Three main basic agreements on mutual legal assistance were signed: an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters; an agreement on mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters; and a treaty for extradition of persons.

The sides were also able to boost economic and investment relations. During the President's visit, four major agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, protection of investments, economic cooperation, and cooperation in the field of aviation were signed.

These are the basic agreement for the attraction of investments.

- What is the number of Kyrgyz tourists visiting the UAE annually? Is the number of tourists from the UAE to Kyrgyzstan growing?

- The number of our tourists is growing every year. Their trip is either for vacation or business purposes. They mostly visit the UAE in thee winter and spring seasons, when it is cold in Kyrgyzstan.

The increase in the Bishkek-Dubai direct flights has also played its role in enhancing mutual trips of citizens. Since February 2012, these flights are operated by Fly Dubai.

Since 2012, Kyrgyzstan has canceled visa regime for citizens of the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries. The UAE nationals tend to visit Kyrgyzstan more during May-September period, when it is extremely hot back in their country.

Kyrgyzstan should be working on attraction of the UAE tourists in here.

- In what way this country could be a trouble for our nationals? What are the common struggles our citizens face in there?

- In 2012-2015, the Consulate General had provided consular and legal assistance to more than 100 citizens in difficult situations like the loss of documents, delay of visas, and other minor offenses. But the most challenging troubles our citizens face in the UAE is, of course, illegal stay and violation of so-called “moral laws.” As this country's rule of law is based on the Sharia, premarital sex is prohibited, you cannot at show up drunk in the public, women cannot wear too appealing clothes, and etc. And these rules apply to everyone. There were cases when our citizens had troubles in their jobs when local employer did not comply with the terms of the labor contract confiscating passport of the employee, delaying wages, and other.

It is important to carefully read the terms and conditions of the labor contract before signing. In the event of such a dispute, citizens must contact either the Consulate General or Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

- Your recommendations to first-time visitors to the UAE

- For women, wearing traditional Muslim clothing in public places is not required, but in order to avoid troubles, they should not be wearing excessively revealing clothes. This applies to men either.

First-time visitors must have in mind that the UAE is a Muslim country that does not tolerate drinking alcohol, which is only allowed in special places that are licensed to sell alcohol (hotels or restaurants for foreign tourists). It is totally unacceptable to show up drunk in public places and drive car while being drunk. The country has severe penalties for such offenses.

Cohabitation of men and women before marriage or extramarital affairs in the UAE is prohibited by law.

During holy month of Ramadan, foreigners should refrain from eating during the daytime, drinking, and smoking in public places.

- How many Kyrgyz citizens permanently residing in the UAE?

- Well, for one to legally stay long in the UAE, a residence visa is needed and it is issued for up to three years. The number of our citizens in the UAE with residence visas is increasing and makes more than 4,000. Mainly young people aged 25 - 35 years old with good education and knowledge of foreign languages stay in the country for long to work in the sphere of trade and services. Also, our citizens can be seen in the offices of major domestic and foreign companies and organizations with offices located in the UAE.

- Emirates is a country with a highly developed infrastructure and quality of life. Is its success secret in petrodollars?

- The basis of sustainable economic growth in the United Arab Emirates was formed in the 1970s thanks to the revenues from hydrocarbon exports. But the last decade, these revenues have been reinvested in infrastructure and industry. The country has large reserves of oil, exports of which made 73% of GDP in 1980, 41% in 1995, and remains below 30% now due to the diversification of the economy. UAE is a member of OPEC since 1967. Today, about 70% of GDP of the Emirates makes construction, production of aluminum, cement, ceramics, food, providing of transport, financial and tourist services.

- In what spheres our economy is interesting for the UAE businessmen?

- Such spheres as real estate, tourism, trade and agriculture have potential for attraction of the UAE investments. The attractiveness of our country is growing amid the country's membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, a single market of five countries.

- And what did they use their petrodollars for?

- The UAE is mainly a desert, but domestic investment of petrodollars in the construction of plants for desalination in the country allowed to grow over 200 million trees in order to create and successfully develop a profitable agriculture.

Another example of investment of petrodollars is building the world's first city with zero emissions of hydrocarbons. It is called Masdar located in the Abu Dhabi suburbs. The city consumes energy produced only from environmentally friendly sources, the buildings meet all modern environmental requirements, the city already has a special transport system operating. The city has its Scientific and Technological Institute of Masdar, campuses for students and teachers.

- Is the UAE a market economy? Is there any state interference in the market processes?

- The Federal Supreme Council is the highest constitutional authority in the United Arab Emirates, being the highest legislative and executive body. It establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation. In addition to determining domestic and foreign policy, it has the right to revise the principle of government of the country.

The UAE is working on transformation of the country into a regional and global center of entrepreneurship through the policy of minimum intervention in the business and effective partnership between the public and private sectors.

In general, the role of government in the economy is high enough: there is a tight fiscal policy, unjustified price hikes are controlled, and speculative activities can be diminished.

Although the government does not set prices, it controls the trade margins at some extend. The real estate, oil, energy, transport, communications giants belong to the state.

- Were there any concerns that protests and turmoil could spread across the Emirates?

- There are no social and economic reasons for that. The standard of living is very high. The state has created very favorable conditions for living, absolutely no reason for trying to break out turmoil. The education, healthcare and other social programs are financed a lot.

- What are the must-knows when entering the Emirati market?

- The favorable geographical position, a simple procedure for the registration of business, as well as the development of commercial, transport, logistics infrastructure make the country attractive to foreign companies and investors.

Businessmen can register their companies either in the UAE or free economic zones.

Despite the fact that the general business standards and etiquette correspond to the Western model, there are some features associated primarily with the Muslim cultural tradition. Arabic business style is distinguished by bargaining, non-verbal communication play important law. Arab partners must have respect and politeness.

Once establishing business ties, one should have in mind the negotiations prior to the conclusion of the deal is often takes more time than in the western countries.

One of the specifics of the Eastern business is – if goods can not be touched, then they don't exist.

-How do businesses in UAE attract investments?

- The country guarantees high protection for investments. The most important thing is a simplified scheme for the registration of business. There is a “single window" policy everywhere in the country. Registration of business can be completed in two hours.

- What impresses in the contemporary Arabic culture of the Emirates?

- UAE differ from their neighbors by liberal foreign and domestic policies. The Emirates are good example of management and business transparency.

The UAE has a lot of tourists from all over the world. It is in the top thirty developed countries in the world. Services are 99 per cent provided in English language. None of the ethnic communities feels discriminated.

- What about the religious influence of the United Arab Emirates to Kyrgyzstan?

- They support the religion, but do not force. Their traditions and beliefs are more liberal.

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