Barbados is seeking to strengthen its relationship with the United Arab Emirates.

This was made clear by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he held talks with H.E. Honourable Minister Matar Al-Tayer, Board member of Dubai Expo2020 Higher Committee (Special Envoy) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on the fringes of the business session of the 34th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government yesterday at the Hilton Hotel in Port of Spain.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister pointed to the great advantages that would be gained from building the bonds of friendship, as exemplified by the existing Double Taxation and Air Services Agreements between the two countries. He said that against the backdrop of spiraling oil prices, Barbados would welcome dialogue with the UAE in relation to its renewable energy programme, as renewable energy is a priority for this country.

Mr. Stuart said that since Barbados was a small island developing state (SIDS) with limited resources and ???unique challenges???, it was imperative that it safeguarded its Green and Blue Economies. He disclosed that Barbados possessed a society that was ???socially viable, economically sound and environmentally sustainable???.

Minister Matar Al-Tayer communicated to the Prime Minister the importance of that country???s bid to host in Dubai the 2020 World Expo, which is slated to take place in October 2013, under the theme: Connectivity, Sustainability and Mobility, and provided full background on the country???s bid. The Prime Minister thanked the Minister for the useful information provided. Five other countries have made bids.

In turn, Minister Matar Al-Tayer welcomed the opportunity to improve the existing ties, and to share resources, amidst the present challenges being faced by both countries. He said that Barbados and his country shared a lot in common, in particular, the tradition of fishing. He described the UAE as ???open to the world???, reflecting richness and diversity, with some 200 nationalities and cultures co-existing harmoniously. He expressed the hope that Barbados and other Caribbean nations would take full advantage of the many aid and innovation programmes which were available in Dubai.

Barbados established diplomatic relations with the oil-rich, sovereign federation of the United Arab Emirates on January 8, 1996, as a way of forging closer ties with the countries of the Middle East.

The two countries initialed an Air Services Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services in July 2010. They also initialed a Double Taxation Agreement earlier this year.

The United Arab Emirates has a population of approximately eight million persons and is the third largest economy in the Middle East.

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