by Anna POPPER, Courtesy of Diplomata Magazine
Interview with H.E. Abdulhamid Al Mulla, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Hungary
Your Excellency, it is a great pleasure to greet You as the first Ambassador of UAE to Hungary. By opening of the Embassy of UAE in Budapest the relations of our countries are raised to a higher level.
First of all, let me express our gladness for establishing a new Embassy in Budapest, in February 2018. This significant step shows the importance of friendly relationship with Hungary by the UAE, and also indicates that the leaders of both countries has the strong intention to strengthen our bilateral relations. I think that the UAE Embassy in Hungary can contribute to the deepening of our cooperation in various fields and levels.
How do You assess the relations of UAE and Hungary? Which areas of cooperation need improvement?
We are very glad to have excellent relationship between our countries but we can do much more to raise this to a strategic partnership level. There are opportunities in many economic fields where we can cooperate with mutual benefit. I think we can do more to increase the bilateral trade volume and to exploit the potential in the investment field in both countries. We can also work on fostering the cultural and educational dimensions of our cooperation.
The UAE's 47th National Day – celebrated on the 2nd December – coincided with the centenary of the birth of late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, 2018 was dedicated as the “Year of Zayed”. What are the main achievements of Your country that make You proud of and gained the respect and admiration of the world during this 100 years?
We are proud of having wise leaders since the reign of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE. The values of the late Sheikh Zayed, may God have mercy on him, laid the foundations of modern cultural and development renaissance in the country. Inspired by these values, our wise leaders built the chance to have a bright future for the UAE, strengthening its position among the countries of the region and the world. The UAE is only 47 years old, but what we achieved from zero is of utmost importance. The UAE became a top tourist destination, a financial and cultural hub, with the latest construction of road network, seaports, airports. We also have a long-term space research program and satellite project entirely made by our engineers. We are very proud of these results and we want to go further by setting new goals and realizing them. UAE is an oasis of peace, political stability, boosting remarkable economic and social progress.
Thanks to a visionary and pragmatic leadership, the country has evolved as knowledge based economy driven by innovation and diversification, and has succeeded to reduce its reliance on oil of the state income to 30%. How have you reached this unprecedented result? What are the main pillars of your economy?
This is even less than 30%, the UAE has made progress toward ending its economic dependence on hydrocarbons and crude oil. That represents only one source of income in our GDP. The policy of the economic diversification has led to impressive development in key sectors such as tourism, trade, financial services, manufacturing and alternative energy. We are building four nuclear plants in Abu Dhabi by a Korean company. The globe shifts toward renewable energy raises a significant opportunity for the UAE to become the first global country financing significantly the use of clean energy. Noor Abu Dhabi is the world’s largest independent solar plant. UAE will host the 24th World Energy Congress in September 2019, in Abu Dhabi.
The six national priorities of our country are: cohesive society and preserved identity, public safety and fair judiciary, competitive knowledge economy, first-rate education system, world-class healthcare. Diversification will continue to be a key pillar for the UAE in coming years. UAE has the second largest economy in the Arab World.
What is the position of the UAE on international level?
The UAE continues to devote itself to addressing major globe challenges, especially those related to poverty eradication, environment protection, climate change, establishment of justice and peace, supporting and promoting global social and economic progress.
The UAE has achieved qualitative growth in all areas. This is reflected clearly through several indicators, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, which covers numerous key areas such as quality of life, infrastructure, technology, and adaptation of business, friendly government policies. For the fifth consecutive year, the UAE ranked first as the largest international donor of Official Development Aid (ODA) compared to gross natural income (GNI). It shows that we do not focus only on our nation, but we are actively working on international level as well, making projects all over the world, helping people in need.
The UAE is an open and tourism-oriented country, and became one of the preferred destinations for Hungarians. What do You consider special and unique in the UAE?
The UAE today is one of the most popular places for holiday, since the country became a top tourist destination, receiving 18 million visitors a year. We have excellent air transport availability: Emirates and Etihad airlines are among the leading air companies of the world, and FlyDubai will start to fly to Budapest in June. The tourists can enjoy beautiful sandy beaches, mountains, desert, modern shopping malls, the view of and from the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), and many other great attractions like Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. We have wonderful hotels with excellent service and exquisite restaurants, we offer high level cultural events and entertainments, from the Dubai Opera to The Louvre Abu Dhabi, a pioneering universal museum. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a modern mosque of incredible size and beauty. And there are many other places to visit in the 7 emirates that compose the country. I would like to mention that Dubai Expo 2020 is one of the most important projects of ours under way.
Your Excellency, tell us please about Your diplomatic carrier? What are Your priorities as Ambassador to Hungary?
It was more than three decades ago when I started my diplomatic carrier. First I was posted as young diplomat to Indonesia, then to the USA, United Kingdom, Italy, Sri Lanka and now I'm in Hungary. I enjoy my work so much since I can serve my country, and represent the interests of UAE and my nation in the country I am posted to. As a student I always dreamed about becoming a diplomat and to give back something to my country. My priority as a first Ambassador of UAE to Hungary, this beautiful country, is strengthening the relationship between our nations.
What inspires You in Your free time?
I enjoy my life and professional work despite the countless diplomatic duties and activities. Whenever I have spare time I like reading especially political and historical books and novels. I also like walking for long distances during the weekend in the beautiful Budapest.
Your Excellency, what is the message Your country is sending to the world?
It is a very good question and in right time. The main message is that UAE declared 2019 as a Year of Tolerance. Our leader says, Year of Tolerance will highlight the UAE as a global capital for co-existence and peace in local, regional and international communities. The first pillar of this initiative will deepen the values of tolerance and co-existence among cultures and people. The second seeks to solidify the UAE as the global representative for tolerance. The third factor will see the UAE multiple cultural programs to build tolerant communities, while the fourth pillar will focus on legislative and policy-orientated objectives that contribute to cultural and religious tolerance. The fifth pillar will focus on promoting tolerance and co-existence via targeted media projects. The UAE has championed the values of multiculturalism and tolerance, rejecting discrimination and hatred speech. Today, 200 nationalities live in harmony in UAE, as their second home.
We created special positions: Minister of Tolerance, Minister of Happiness, Minister of Youth and Minister of Artificial Intelligence. It shows the creative and visionary policy of our leaders. Women are very important in our society: we have women as ministers, ambassadors, pilots, university professors. 70% of the students at the Emirates University are women. After the next elections 50% of the National Council's members will be women.
I would like to share with the readers, that Pope Francis paid a very first visit to UAE in February 2019 at the invitation of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to UAE. We were delighted to welcome His Holiness on a visit to the UAE. He is a symbol of peace and tolerance, and promotion of brotherhood. We hope that the success of this historic visit, will strengthen the intention of peaceful coexistence among people.