THE Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Honourable George Milner Tozaka and his counterpart, His Royal Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that paves the way for visa free entry into each other’s countries by the respective passport holders of the two countries.
The MoU was signed at the end of a fruitful four day visit to Dubai, UAE, by Minister Tozaka on the invitation from Her Royal Highness Reem Al Hashimy, the Minister of State and International Cooperation for the UAE.
Minister Tozaka was invited to attend the preparatory meeting for the Expo 2020 to be hosted in Dubai, UAE, from October 2020 to April 2021. The Meeting, which was convened from 19-20 October, was organized to inform the International Community on the progress that the UAE has accomplished so far in preparation for the Expo.
Minister Tozaka presented to Her Royal Highness Reem Al Hashimy, who is also the UAE’s Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau Director General, a letter of acceptance by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare confirming Solomon Islands participation in the forthcoming Expo 2020.
Solomon Islands was invited to participate at the Expo by His Royal Highness Sheik Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.
In line with the letter of acceptance, Minister Tozaka also signed an agreement for Solomon Islands’ participation at the Expo in 2020. UAE organizers of the Expo have consistently promoted the ‘one nation, one pavilion’ concept that would allow all nations participating at the Expo to ‘tell their own story’.
The UAE will support Solomon Islands’ participation and ensuring that the Solomon Islands pavilion meets the standards expected of the hosts. Minister Tozaka is confident that the platform provided by UAE for Solomon Islands to tell its story, share its culture, and build partnerships through development cooperation and attract business investments has the potential to boost Solomon Islands’ sustainable development and economic growth prospects.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade will soon convene a national committee to begin preparations for the Expo. The theme of the Expo is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’
The visa waiver arrangement will allow for Solomon Islands passport holders to enter UAE on a visa free basis. Likewise, passport holders of the UAE will also enter Solomon Islands in visa free as well.
Minister Tozaka stated that ‘the basis of this arrangement is to enhance closer development cooperation between the two countries that could potentially promote Solomon Islands to interested UAE investors looking to invest in Solomon Islands. Also the people to people connections that such arrangements encourage is equally important. This arrangement also contributes to increasing the value of the Solomon Islands passport internationally, which is in the interest of our nation’.
Unlike similar arrangements between UAE and other Pacific Island Countries which are restrictive in their application, the arrangement with Solomon Islands includes all classifications of Solomon Islands passports. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, together with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, will now initiate the domestic processes to effect this arrangement.
UAE and Solomon Islands signed diplomatic relations in 2010. Since then the UAE has made substantial assistance to the Pacific Islands Countries including Solomon Islands in the Energy sector. Solomon Islands is now well positioned to reap the benefits of new initiatives through the enhancement of its relations and cooperation with the Gulf oil rich country.