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Official visit to UAE: Opening of plenary meeting

Speech by His Royal Highness The Crown Prince at the opening of a plenary meeting in Abu Dhabi, 13 April 2010

It is a pleasure to stand before you today. I have been looking forward to this visit to the UAE and Abu Dhabi, to this dynamic country – which in such a remarkable way has managed to combine innovation with tradition. I am honoured to be here. Thank you for meeting with us today.

The Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs are here with me. We have come here with a distinguished business delegation, comprising representatives of some of the important business sectors and Norwegian companies. One important part is representing the petroleum supply industry and maritime services.

Norwegian companies have been represented in this region for a long time – among them are Jotun Paints, Wilhelmsen ship service and DNV, the global certification company. These companies are Norwegian of origin with Norwegian expertise, ethics and philosophy. Today they are global companies. They contribute to investment, income and employment – not only in Norway, but also here in the UAE. Hence, the UAE is not a new business partner for Norway, but it is becoming significantly more important for Norwegian exports and investments. We have come with the ambition to further expand relations between UAE and Norway by engaging in a broader dialogue comprising both political issues and stronger commercial ties.

The UAE and Norway share several common traits. As petroleum exporters our importance may be greater than our geographical size and population might suggest. As petroleum producing countries we share an obligation towards the environment. We find ourselves in climate zones with the opposite denominator. We are both large consumers of energy – for heating and for cooling respectively. We also set aside petroleum revenues for future generations through our Sovereign Wealth Funds. We share a common interest to find ways to produce and consume energy in an environmentally sustainable manner. We seek to diversify our economies and have understood that our human resources are our best capital to this end.

We are both coastal nations with long seafaring and shipbuilding traditions. Fish has served as a staple food to sustain livelihood for centuries. Norway has built on its expertise in the marine sector and has become one of the largest exporters of seafood.

Since oil-production started in the North Sea 40 years ago, Norway has gone through rapid economic and social development. Large revenues from petroleum production have given us choices we could not previously envisage. Norway can now boast one of the world’s largest Sovereign Wealth Funds after those of the UAE.

Both the UAE and Norway have escaped poverty, and can today enjoy the fruits of prosperity. This affluent position calls upon us to share with those less affluent. We both have an ambition to assist those in need through humanitarian aid and development assistance, like in Afghanistan and Haiti.

Due to the common challenges we face, time has come to strengthen our relations further. There might even be areas where our views differ somewhat. Therefore, we should create and use opportunities to discuss and explain our views. Only then can we strengthen our relationship further.

We discussed this in Oslo where I had the opportunity to meet with HH Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah. He visited Norway on our national day last year. He promoted the UAE candidature to host the International Renewable Energy Agency. Allow me to congratulate His Highness, your very able Foreign Minister, and the UAE for securing the secretariat of IRENA to Abu Dhabi. The UAE has shown a clear determination to play an active role in defining global solutions to the climate challenge. I was also informed about the MASDAR-project , which is both courageous and visionary. Being very concerned about how we as petroleum-producing countries should address the climate challenge, I find that the UAE has taken a lead by launching the MASDAR-project. I look forward to receiving more information on this groundbreaking project later today. I can assure you that Norway will work with the UAE on the climate agenda and the renewable energy agenda.

Both our countries strive to build peace through active diplomacy. Norway holds the chairmanship of the group of donor countries for the support of the Palestinian National Authorities. The UAE plays a very constructive role in this group as one of the major donors to the PA and strong supporter for peaceful settlement of conflicts. Our two Foreign Ministers met recently here in Abu Dhabi and found common ground on several issues. We will be looking forward to working closer with the UAE with the purpose of sharing insights and analysis on several international issues.

On a closing note I want to salute the achievements of this young country, the United Arab Emirates. I want to acknowledge the vision of the founder of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Zayed, to live in a peaceful and prosperous country. I want to congratulate you with your successes as a country in such a short time span.

We are delighted to be here in the UAE and in Abu Dhabi. This meeting and the following seminars here at the Emirates Palace are good opportunities to share experiences, inspire each other and to increase cooperation.
Finally I want to thank the organizers of this seminar.

Thank you for your attention.

13.04.2010

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