Feature

Fijian Troops Could Be Heading To Oil-Rich United Arab Emirates Soon To Guard Assets, Interests

the Issue was raised in bilateral talks between PM and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
13 Feb 2020 10:51
Fijian Troops Could Be Heading To Oil-Rich United Arab Emirates Soon To Guard Assets, Interests
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, capital of UAE. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister

Non-commissioned officers of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces could soon be guarding strategic assets and interests of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

That would happen when Fiji’s and UAE’s armed forces sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

Talks have been going on and the issue was brought up again when Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had bilateral talks with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, capital of UAE.

UAE’s biggest asset is its oil reserves. It is placed seventh in the world’s top 10 oil reserves with 97.8 billion barrels. Of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi has most of the oil, with 92 billion barrels. The UAE’s reserve-to-production is about 93 years.

Mr Bainimarama told the Crown Prince that he was keen to assist the UAE with its request. He would appreciate if the UAE could furnish a draft agreement for consideration to enable it to happen under the Crown Prince’s guidance.

He said his visits to the UAE had encouraged him to seek for greater cultural co-operation between the two countries. He appreciated the potential and opportunities that relations offered and reaffirmed his personal commitment to building stronger relations with the UAE.
Other highlights from the talks:

  • The planned setting up of a UAE Diplomatic Mission in Suva. The Fijian Government has approved it.
  • Discussions also focused on Visa Waiver for all Fijian passport holders entering the UAE. Mr Bainimarama hoped a mutually beneficial agreement could be reached soon.
  • He said Fijians were enjoying the best education at the New York University in Abu Dhabi. Mr Bainimarama asked for more scholarship opportunities for Fijian students.
  • Fiji’s participation at the EXPO2020 in Abu Dhabi.
  • Mr Bainimarama updated the Crown Prince on Tropical Cyclone Sarai and Tino.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (right) with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (right) with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister

Ticking time bomb’

Meanwhile, at an earlier meeting where the Resilient Settlement for the Urban Poor Programme was launched, Mr Bainimarama said informal settlements were “ticking time bombs” in an age of worsening climate catastrophes.

“If you’re living in an informal settlement, without a sense of ownership or long-term security, it can be difficult – or even impossible – to invest in a safe and sustainable home.

“All too frequently, this results in shoddy, dangerous construction –– metal roofing hangs precariously over walls made of a patchwork of scrap materials, all without a secure foundation.

“Around the world, you’ll see homes like this packed in tight proximity, often literally stacked one on top of the other. This poses a critical danger not only to those who live in them, but those around them –– and anyone else who may stand in the path of flying debris.

“When we think of the ‘poor’ or the ‘vulnerable’ I’m sure different faces come to mind for each of us. For me, I see the faces of Fijians residing in informal settlements – particularly women, children and those living with disabilities. Raising the resilience of these communities is a pressing priority for Fiji for reasons that, as prime minister, I know all too well. I’ve been on the ground in dozens of communities in the wake of natural disasters, and I can tell you that informal settlements can be hit the hardest.

“Six cyclones have struck Fiji in the past four years, including Cyclone Winston –– the strongest-ever storm to make landfall in the southern hemisphere. In the aftermath of these storms, communities on the frontlines can resemble warzones.

“Palm trees are stripped of their fronds, their bare trunks ensnared by sheet metal whipped through the air at hundreds of kilometres per hour. Wood panelling is peeled from homes and splintered across landscapes. Entire settlements –– and their homes, possessions, and infrastructure –– are inundated by floodwaters, either damaged beyond repair or washed away entirely.

“This suffering isn’t a Fijian phenomenon, everywhere on earth climate impacts are amplified by urban poverty. The increasing ferocity of climate-induced disasters alone makes them deadlier, but that threat is compounded further by rapid urbanisation.

“With more and more of the world’s citizens living in unsustainable informal settlements, and with climate change worsening as global temperatures rise, it’s clear the need to ‘rise up’ to address the sustainability of our urban poor has never been greater.”

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