The United Arab Emirates and Iraq have announced that they will work together on reconstruction and investment projects totalling $3 billion, according to a joint statement by the two governments released on Sunday.
The announcement follows Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazemi's first official visit to the UAE, which Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, said strengthens the "bridge of ties" between the two countries.
Al-Kazemi landed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday on this first official visit to the UAE led by a delegation of senior Iraqi officials, including Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. One of the main objectives of the talks was to promote cooperation in the field of energy, especially in the renewable energy sector. Both countries are two important members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the UAE is one of the most advanced Arab Gulf states in renewable energy. Kazemi also visited the UAE accompanied by the ministers of foreign affairs, finance, defence, oil and housing, and discussed with the Emirati authorities "the need to expand military and security cooperation and information sharing to combat terrorism".
Since taking office in May 2020, Kazemi has taken significant steps to reach out to his neighbours in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, as well as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest oil exporter, announced on 30 March that it would invest more than $2.66 billion in Iraq and reopen border crossings closed since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait during Kazemi's visit to Riyadh.
"We have built our relationship on trust and loyalty. We know Iraq is going through difficult times, we will support them and we are close to each other, in each other's heart," Sheikh Mohamed said while speaking to Al-Kazemi, in a video released by the UAE government.
"The two sides agreed on the importance of developing and strengthening cooperation in economic fields, developing trade and increasing trade exchange, encouraging the flow of investments between the two countries, inviting businessmen from the two countries for exchange visits, establishing the Iraqi-Emirati Business Council, facilitating all measures that serve the interests of the two countries," the joint statement said. "In this context, the UAE announced its investment of three billion dollars for the sister Republic of Iraq," the text continued.
Al-Kazemi also stopped in Dubai, where he held a meeting with its ruler and UAE Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. The two explored the prospects of expanding cooperation between the two sister nations at the levels of trade and investment, as well as the exchange of know-how in the field of infrastructure. In this regard, Sheikh Mohammed affirmed the UAE's readiness to provide logistical support to Iraq to develop its ports and improve its services. Iraq is trying to diversify its economy to make it less dependent on oil and is currently exporting dates and bitumen, for paving roads, to the UAE.
The Iraqi prime minister also concluded his official visit to the UAE on Monday after agreeing with the UAE authorities on investments to support Iraq's ailing economy. This agreement brings the total investment figure to nearly 6 billion dollars in less than a week, for his country and from its Arab neighbours, following the more than 2.6 billion dollars announced by Saudi Arabia on 30 March. The initiatives are aimed at strengthening economic and investment relations, creating new opportunities for cooperation, and promoting economic and social growth in support of the Iraqi people.