The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday pitched for resumption of its normal flight services with India, saying such a step will help in checking the escalating cost of travel and address difficulties being faced by travellers. Ambassador of the UAE to India Ahmed Albanna also said that the two countries are moving forward to firm up a comprehensive economic partnership agreement by the first half of next year that is expected to significantly boost trade and investment ties.
At a media interaction, the envoy, referring to the newly formed grouping of India, the US, the UAE and Israel, said preparations are on to hold a ministerial meeting among the four partner countries. Albanna said the foreign ministers of the four countries will soon announce the "track" and areas of cooperation of the grouping.
"It is an economic block focusing on business and trade," he said. The ambassador strongly favoured the resumption of normal air services between India and the UAE, noting that the current volume of traffic under the air bubble arrangement is just 30 per cent of the normal passenger load.
"Returning to normal air services will help in bringing down escalating prices of air tickets. Overall, it will address the difficulties being faced by people on both sides," he said. The ambassador also said his government had requested India to lift the travel restrictions to the UAE in view of the ongoing Dubai Expo, and added that there was no response to it yet.
Asked about India's concerns over escalating crude oil prices, he said the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and OPEC-plus countries are responsible to contain the hike in the prices. India on Tuesday announced that it will release 5 million barrels of crude oil from its emergency stockpile in tandem with the US, China, Japan, and other major economies to cool international oil prices.
Albanna also gave an overview of the UAE's achievements in diverse fields in the last five decades and said renewable energy, information technology, education and healthcare will be among key focus areas for the next 50 years. "We are in close cooperation with India in areas of artificial intelligence, IT among others apart from cooperation in traditional areas of oil and gas," he said.
The ambassador said UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announced 2021 as the 'Year of the 50th' to commemorate 50 years of the UAE's formation in 1971. "From 6 April 2021 until 31 March 2022, the UAE will celebrate its remarkable journey over the last 50 years and begin preparing for the next 50," he said.
He said the UAE has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies worldwide and that it has witnessed impressive economic and urban revolutions. Listing various accomplishments of the UAE, the ambassador said women in the country today constitute a vital part of its workforce and actively contribute to the country's growth and development.He said women constitute 60 per cent of the UAE's workforce and even 30 per cent of the ambassadorial positions are being held by women. "The role of women in the UAE is increasing as a major focus has been given on gender equality," he said. The envoy also said 44,000 "golden visas" have been issued by the UAE so far which included professionals in diverse fields.