Maldives looks to the UAE for help in solar and wind energy

Bilateral agreements are being sought on environmental and parliamentary issues.

"My presence here is to attract more investment from the UAE to Male," says Ahmed Rasheed, the Maldives ambassador.
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ABU DHABI // The Maldives is seeking cooperation with the UAE in a bid to develop renewable energy sectors that could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the island nation .

The Maldives opened its first embassy in Abu Dhabi at the start of the month, aiming to enhance relations between the two countries.

The newly arrived ambassador, Ahmed Rasheed, shared his plans to promote bilateral ties, tourism and investment.

"We are in touch with the UAE Government about the renewable energy as the Emirates has very sound policies in this sector," Mr Rasheed said.

"The Emirates is rapidly developing solar and wind energy sectors. So we are looking for more information about the project they currently have and how we can get assistance from the UAE Government in these areas."

The Maldives is particularly interested in environmental issues because, with an average ground hight of only 1.5metres, it is the world's lowest lying country.

Mr Rasheed said: "The UAE is also a very important trade partner for us as the Maldives' total imports from the UAE was 22 per cent in 2011. The imported commodities include petrochemicals and food."

The Maldives has looked at the success of the UAE with its well-established parliamentary system.

"Being a young country we need experiences from others," the ambassador said. "So discussions are ongoing with the concerned UAE Government authorities in this field."

Relations between the two countries can be gauged by the number of flights to the Maldives. At present there are 28 a week, and just a few years ago the number was negligible. There are three daily flights from Dubai to the capital Male, and one from Abu Dhabi.

"Both nations have shared a strong relationship for many years and now we want to bring this relationship much closer," Mr Rasheed said.

The Maldives is made up of 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, of which 200 are inhabited.

There has been an emphasis on developing the country as a tourist attraction, with hospitality and service sectors.

"My presence here is to attract more investment from the UAE to Male, mainly in service sectors and tourists to our country," Mr Rasheed said. "We have many sectors open for investors to come, navigate and invest."

The Maldives has also been exploring the concept of medical tourism.

There are only a handful of Maldivians working in the UAE, but Mr Rasheed said he would like that number to increase.

"I would promote bringing more Maldivians here in different professions. After opening the mission, I believe it's a good opportunity for our people to come and work here."