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UAE-Malaysia relations are very positive, says new envoy
By Mariecar Jara-Puyod August 13, 2017
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DUBAI: New Malaysian Ambassador to the UAE Syed Mohamad Hasrin Aidid said the Abu Dhabi-Kuala Lumpur bilateral relations and people-to-people relations are “very positive and very good.”

The former consul general to Dubai (2008 to 2010) also told The Gulf Today that among the “commonalities” both governments are paying attention to closely are the safety and security of their nationals and residents.

The career diplomat who joined the Malaysian Administrative Diplomatic Service in June 1994 returned to the UAE on April 30. He presented his credentials to UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum on July 2.

“We are pleased with the state of bilateral relations between the UAE and Malaysia. It is very positive. There are exchange visits between and among leaders, ministers and officials,” Aidid said.

The bilateral relations which comprise the wide-ranging political-economic-educational-social-cultural spheres are continually enhanced through “quite active political interactions from the margins or sidelines of international and regional meetings or forums wherein commonalities with the UAE” are discussed.

Among the commonalities is counter-terrorism or counter-radicalism: “We are very active in terms of military cooperation and security cooperation. We have common threats of extremism and radicalism although we are from different regions.”

Aidid mentioned the “Sawab centres” in the UAE and the “Southeast Asia Centre for Countering Terrorism” hubbed in Kuala Lumpur.

These have the “goal to address the threats of terrorism in terms of counter narratives or ideological battles” because the social media has become the potent tool of all extremism perpetrators and supporters.

CONCERTED EFFORT

Saying that aside from the UAE, Malaysia also works closely with other governments such as with the other nine-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Aidid stressed: “We cannot do the fight against terrorism alone. There must be cooperation and collaboration between and among countries. This is done through sharing information, sharing intelligence, sharing experiences.”

“We have to fight counter narratives comprehensively.”

The graduate of a Master’s Degree in Public Management from the National University of Singapore-Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Arizona believes that “people-to-people relations” is essential in the enhancement of bilateral relations.

He termed the “people-to-people relations between Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur as “very good.”

Aidid added: “Strong political and economic relations will be achieved if there were interconnectivity between and among peoples. The interconnectivity must be felt.”

Thus, Malaysia is keen on inviting UAE nationals and residents to visit or study and even live in the Southeast Asian country: “Once the people are connected, they get to know and understand one another. There will be good relations not only among governments but among everyone as well.”

Etihad Airways and Emirates fly to Kuala Lumpur daily, with a total of 35 flights a week. By the end of 2016, tourists coming from the UAE to Malaysia were at 33,000 with half or 16,500 Emiratis.

On the enhancement of goodwill among nations, Aidid whose interest in International Relations pivoted his career in foreign service also said that Malaysia strongly believes in the development of human resources through the provision of world-class educational institutions not only in Kuala Lumpur but at  the Edu City in Iskandar, Johor Bahru, as well.

He said, “Part of our efforts is to promote quality education. Things are changing fast globally. The youth are our future generation. They have to keep up with these changes. We have to prepare them.”     

MALAYSIANS IN UAE

Aidid, whose other foreign postings are as Second Secretary and Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Malaysia in Jakarta, is “very happy” that his 7,000 compatriots across the seven emirates—evenly split between Abu Dhabi/Western Region and Dubai/Northern Emirates—know and respect the culture as well as the laws of the host government.

Majority of them are employed in the aviation sector, financial and banking institutions including the oil and gas industry.

“The number of Malaysians has increased from 5,000 to 7,000. Their interest in the UAE has become stronger; the country being very modern and progressive with many opportunities.”

Aidid said the two Malaysian diplomatic missions in the UAE are open to all the 7,000. These welcome suggestions for activities so that they are home away from home.

However, he pointed out: “But there is also a ‘but.’ We also have limitations. We have to respect the laws of the country. If they flout the laws, there is nothing more we can do.”

“We have to work within the parameters of the laws of the country because each country is sovereign. Everybody has to respect that.”

The bilateral trade relations between Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur resulted in a total $5.3 billion as of the end of 2016 “in favour of Malaysia.”

The UAE is the largest trading partner of Malaysia in West Asia and the 15th largest trading partner globally.

The top five exports of Malaysia to the UAE are jewellery; electrical and electronics products; machinery, equipment and parts; metal products; and processed food. 

Aidid is “happy” to return to the UAE as his country’s top diplomat. He said it is nice to be back to a place where he had established friendships nine years years ago and where he has colleagues who are also currently ambassadors of their respective governments.

“It is like going back to your barangay (“village” in Filipino). We call that return in (Bahasa Malaysia) balik-kampung,” he said.
 

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