Promoting peace and regional security in the Middle East is one of Switzerland's priorities in its first-ever strategy for the MENA region. Mr Cassis, the head of the Foreign Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), therefore welcomed the normalisation agreement between the UAE and Israel. "We support each and every step that leads to more dialogue and cooperation, and hope that this common understanding will serve as an inspiration for the entire region," he said. Mr Cassis also discussed his recent trip to Iran and the conflict in Yemen with his Emirati counterpart.
Major trading partner in the region
With Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Mr Cassis spoke about Switzerland's priorities for its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) strategy, which include bilateral cooperation in the areas of business, research, innovation and human rights and democracy. The UAE is Switzerland's most important trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa region. Mr Cassis was particularly interested in the economic diversification of the UAE, which could open up new possibilities for Swiss companies. The UAE is in the process of positioning itself as a regional hub for digital platforms, artificial intelligence and new technologies. Mr Cassis was able to see this for himself during his meeting with the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Francesco La Camera.
Swiss pavilion at Dubai Expo to showcase water diplomacy
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan also discussed vocational training, international cooperation and Switzerland's presence at EXPO Dubai. Switzerland implements a dialogue on global challenges such as health, climate change, water scarcity and food security with a number of Gulf states. In reference to Switzerland's presence at the expo in Dubai, which will now take place between October 2021 and March 2022, Mr Cassis explained: "During the last month of the expo, the Swiss pavilion will be entirely dedicated to the topic of water and water diplomacy. Our Blue Peace initiative aims to prevent conflicts through fair, efficient water management. This is vital to a region where water scarcity is a real problem."Mr Cassis also dedicated part of his visit to the exchange between different religions and cultures, discussing the situation of Christians in the UAE and Arabian Peninsula with Swiss bishop Paul Hinder and visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
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