B.E.: Please tell us how bilateral cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the United Arab Emirates is developing today. What tasks does the country's leadership set today for the diplomatic missions in the UAE?
A.M.: In 2018, the Kyrgyz Republic and the United Arab Emirates celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The first consulate of the Kyrgyz Republic opened in 1999. Over this time, there has been a steady and positive development in all spectra of cooperation. Mutual visits of high level official delegations took place. With the opening of the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in Abu Dhabi in 2016, the dynamics of bilateral relations has increased in the political direction.
In December 2017, the newly elected President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbai Jeenbekov took office. The head of state assigned the priority task of expanding integration of Kyrgyzstan with the world community, with special emphasis on deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in trade and economic relations and attracting investments. Currently, diplomatic missions of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UAE are carrying out systematic work on the implementation of the tasks set by the country's leadership. At the same time, special attention is paid to the protection of the rights of compatriots and the development of cultural and humanitarian ties with the UAE.
B.E.: What are the dynamics of trade and economic cooperation and indicators of trade?
A.M.: For our country, the United Arab Emirates is among the key and priority countries of the Arabian Gulf., We can state now, without exaggeration, the evident success of the reforms and innovations carried out by the UAE Government in achieving impressive success in the development of the country's economy. In a conversation with my colleagues, I often compare the famous Burj Khalifa with a peculiar beacon in the “world trade ocean”, attracting and pointing the way to one of the leading trade, economic and financial centers of the world.
In this understanding, one of the priorities of the Embassy and the Consulate General of the Kyrgyz Republic in the UAE is to promote economic diplomacy in the interests of domestic business, to provide comprehensive assistance in finding partners, laying a roadmap for the implementation of investment projects between the Kyrgyz Republic and the UAE.
Over the past seven years, the total trade turnover between Kyrgyzstan and the UAE has amounted to 559.7 million USD. Given the existing potential between the two countries, I would like to see this indicator much higher. To achieve the goals, the Kyrgyz side takes appropriate decisions to create an attractive business climate, simplified taxation system and provide guarantees for the investment protection. Several logistic solutions are being worked out.
B.E.: Periodically, information appears on visits of managers of large commercial structures of the UAE to Kyrgyzstan to explore investment opportunities. What investment projects does Kyrgyzstan offer today?
A.M.: I think, you are talking about the business forum held in Bishkek on May 24, 2017, organized by the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic as part of the official visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Kyrgyz Republic in May 2017 with the participation of business circles of the two countries. The UAE business delegation included representatives of the largest investment corporations of the Emirates at the forum.
The UAE side was presented investment opportunities and legislative aspects of Kyrgyzstan, as well as projects of companies operating in digital technologies and communications, the mining industry, banking system, energy sector, and food processing. In Kyrgyzstan, a favorable basis for investments has been created, and there is a good legal base with the UAE. Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union with access to a market with a population of over 180 million. The European Union granted Kyrgyzstan the right to participate in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+). Kyrgyzstan’s products can be imported to EU member states with customs preferences with a market of more than 500 million people. In this context, Kyrgyzstan has a favorable platform for creating joint commercial enterprises with a focus on the processing industry. Diplomatic missions of the Kyrgyz Republic are currently conducting relevant planned work with the UAE on several projects.
B.E.: Which sectors of the economy, including tourism and the environment, are most favorable for the implementation of joint projects of the two countries? Is the tourist flow growing? What attracts the UAE residents in Kyrgyzstan?
A.M.: You’ve raised a very good issue, because tourism is among the priority and promising sectors of Kyrgyzstan's economy. Our country is famous for its beautiful nature and unique landscapes, moderate and comfortable climate in four seasons. In the summer, Kyrgyzstan invites tourists to plunge into the cool waters of Lake Issyk-Kul, one of the deepest lakes in the world, and make a trip to the picturesque mountain gorges, and try themselves in active sports, rafting, and mountaineering. In winter time tourists can enjoy skiing at the ski resorts.
To develop tourism and attract investments, a visa-free regime for citizens of 61 countries for a period of up to two months has been in effect since 2012. A visa-free regime for up to 60 days has been granted to several countries of the Arabian Gulf, including the United Arab Emirates. Over the past three years, there has been a high trend of increasing the number of tourists visiting the Kyrgyz Republic.
The number of economic entities in the tourism sector has increased significantly in the country, as well as the construction and commissioning of private hotels.
Many UAE business people and travel agencies are interested in opening their own representative offices and hotels in the Kyrgyz Republic. This is a good indicator. As a rule, tourists from the Gulf countries are attracted by an ecological and health tourism in Kyrgyzstan and many of them fly with their families and relatives.
The Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of the Kyrgyz Republic in Dubai actively provide comprehensive support.
B.E.: What is the size of the Kyrgyz diaspora in the UAE? What plans and activities for its rallying do you undertake? Is its number growing or decreasing? What is your agenda for 2018?
A.M.: Since the opening of the Consulate General and the Embassy, the number and registration of citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic has increased. We believe this is a good indicator, clearly demonstrating the interest of our compatriots in staying in the UAE. Currently, about 3 thousand citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic are on consular registration, and most of them work in various sectors of the UAE economy. Higher education and knowledge of foreign languages allow many citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic to successfully work in large companies, industrial enterprises, and banking and management sector, and some of them are in leadership positions. We pin high hopes on our compatriots, usingn the invaluable experience acquired in the UAE. Together with the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in Abu Dhabi and activists from the Kyrgyz diaspora, thematic meetings, celebrations, and participation in international exhibitions are held. This year, it is planned to hold events on the occasion of the memory and the 90th anniversary of the world famous Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov.
B.E.: What interesting events, in business and entertainment, would you advise to visit in Kyrgyzstan?
A.M.: You’ve provided me with an excellent opportunity to tell about the upcoming grand scale event, the Third World Nomad Games to be held on shore of Issyk-Kul in Cholpon-Ata city from September 2 to 8, 2018.
In the modern world, every nation has its own unique history, culture and traditions. This concept lies in the meaning of the Nomad Games, so that generations could preserve their traditions and culture. The upcoming World Nomad Games can be compared to the Olympics, because it is a major tournament in terms of entertainment, where representatives of various countries compete in the spirit of friendship and good neighborliness in horse racing, eagle and falconry hunting, in traditional wrestling and archery skills. An ethnographic city will be built with many yurts, where festivals and exhibitions will be held, demonstrating national traditions and customs.
In 2016, the official delegation from the United Arab Emirates headed by the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, the Chairman of the United Arab Emirates Department of Youth and Sports, Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, together with a sports team, took part in the World Nomad Games. A national tent of the United Arab Emirates was installed in the ethnographic city, which demonstrated the life and culture of the people. The Games obtained widespread media support through the information resources of the Abu Dhabi Sports Chanel and YAS, which broadcasted reports at the UAE television channels.
This year, the World Nomad Games promise to become even more ambitious. Teams and tourists from all over the world are expected to arrive. A live broadcast of the Games’ opening will be organized by leading media partners of Europe, the Middle East and the CIS.
We will be glad to see guests at the upcoming Third World Nomad Games on September 2-8, 2018 in friendly and hospitable Kyrgyzstan