Uganda’s exports to the United Arab Emirates have grown from $300 million since diplomatic relations were established in 2009 to $1.85 billion in 2020.
These are mainly comprised of precious minerals, high-value crops, and labor.
With the steady increase, President Yoweri Museveni is pushing for more exports both to the UAE and the rest of the world and is now marketing Uganda as a tourist and investment destination at the ongoing Dubai 2020 Expo.
Uganda is among the 190 countries that are participating in the expo, which opened on October 1st, 2021, and will run until March 31st, 2022.
Museveni, who arrived in Dubai on Saturday, is today officiating at the expo because the United Arab Emirates has scheduled October 3rd as the “Uganda National Day”. This is the day in which a country promotes its products and services.
Museveni while delivering a speech, said Uganda is the right place for both tourists and investors because of available raw materials and market.
He added that Uganda offers a lot in terms of tourism whereby, “Destination Uganda has been internationally recognized as a premium tourist destination.
The tourism products include gorilla tracking, bird watching, and mountain hiking especially the Rwenzori Mountains.”
During the six months of the expo, Museveni says that officials will show Uganda’s unique tourism potential to the people of the UAE and other participating countries and promote agriculture products such as diary, fish, simsim, cocoa, coffee, fruits and vegetables. They will also promote trade and seek joint ventures and investments in agriculture, manufacturing, services and ICT.
He added that the expo is an opportunity to establish joint ventures in Uganda’s infrastructure, ICT, health and mining sector projects such as the Rapid Bus project, developing inland ports, medical equipment manufacturing and management centre and a specialized hospital. For agro-processing, he wants investors who can facilitate the establishment of a modern abattoir, aqua parks, and an instant soluble coffee plant.
Museveni is optimistic that the country will record an increase in tourism numbers, growth in trade and investments because Uganda and UAE have strong relations.
After his speech, Museveni toured Uganda’s pavilion, which has several stalls that showcase various tourist sites, existing opportunities in the mining, ICT, services and agriculture among other sectors.
Henry Okello Oryem, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of International Affairs says visitors at Uganda’s pavilion will get in-depth into Uganda’s environmental, touristic, cultural, economic and social landscapes and be familiarized with it as a destination of choice for both leisure and business.
The government hopes to also receive more tourists and investors when Uganda Airlines commences international flights to Dubai, London, Guangzhou and Mumbai. The national carrier is expected to start flying to Dubai on October 4 and other routes by end of next year.
Meanwhile, Gen. Jeje Odongo, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, says UAE is an important partner, adding that since 2009 when Uganda and the UAE established diplomatic relations, trade between the two countries has grown significantly.
According to Odong for instance, exports from Uganda to the UAE increased from 300 million US Dollars in 2009 to 1.85 billion US Dollars in 2020. During the same period, investment figures rose from 150 million US Dollars to over 800 million US Dollars while remittances from the UAE currently stand at 200 million US Dollars.
As a result, he says UAE is Uganda’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and Gulf region.
Zaake W. Kibedi, Uganda’s Ambassador to the UAE says Uganda exports mainly skilled workers, minerals, gems, precious metals, tea, coffee, cocoa, agricultural produce and meat products to the UAE.
He says the UAE has invested close to 5 billion US Dollars in Uganda, of which 2 billion US Dollars was in the form of foreign direct investment and while the remaining is portfolio investment. The UAE investments in Uganda are mainly in five sectors, including petroleum, energy, infrastructure construction, commercial agriculture and services.
Kibedi and Odongo urge Ugandans in the UAE to also invest back home.
Odongo also hopes that the expo will accelerate growth in Uganda’s exports and investment and trade will double in 2022.