President Ueli Maurer concludes visit to the Gulf region

Bern, 29.10.2019 - President Ueli Maurer concluded his presidential visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, 29 October. The focus in both countries was on bilateral relations and issues relating to sustainability. The president was accompanied on his visit to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Riyadh by a delegation from the financial sector.

On Sunday, in the United Arab Emirates, Mr Maurer met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Reem Al Hashimy, Minister for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020. Together with the Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid bin Humaid Al Tayer, and State Secretary Daniela Stoffel from the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF), he chaired the second round of dialogue on financial policy with the UAE. He also attended events with experts on fintech and sustainable finance. At an official ground breaking ceremony Mr Maurer was presented with a plot which will be the site of the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2020. Construction work is set to commence at the beginning of November.

In the UAE, talks primarily served to foster bilateral relations between Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates in a broad range of areas. Discussions in the field of economic and financial affairs covered the implementation of the free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the automatic exchange of information, and the bilateral double taxation agreement.

Questions concerning the rule of law, democracy, human rights, the political situation, and Switzerland’s good offices were raised during talks in both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

In Riyadh Mr Maurer stressed the opportunities for bilateral exchanges and cooperation presented by the ‘Vision 2030’ reform programme, particularly in terms of innovation, education and sustainable finance. He had audiences with King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and Prince Badr bin Farhan Al Saud, the Minister of Culture.

The Swiss delegation held a number of bilateral discussions with the Minister of Commerce and Investment, Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, the Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammed bin Maziad Al-Tuwaijri and the Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al Jadaan, on the further development of mutual relations and specific projects in financial relations and the areas of education, tourism, dual-track vocational education and training, digital transformation and sustainability.

Mr Maurer gave one of the opening addresses at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh. In his speech he cited Switzerland’s ambitious system of direct democracy as a political early warning system and highlighted Switzerland’s approach to new technological developments and innovation. He also spoke about sustainability in society, governance and in the environment, and emphasised the importance of the Swiss education system and its higher education institutions.

Shortly before leaving, Mr Maurer attended a training session of a women’s basketball team accompanied by Lina Almaeena, a pioneer of Saudi women’s basketball. Under the reforms envisaged as part of ‘Vision 2030’, Saudi Arabia is seeking to encourage opportunities for women through culture and sport and to improve their place in society. In that context, and as a token of thanks for Saudi Arabia’s hospitality, Mr Maurer invited a Saudi women’s basketball team to Switzerland’s National Sports Centre in Magglingen for a week’s training.

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