Today I held a series of high level meetings with government and business representatives in Dubai to discuss opportunities to strengthen our bilateral relationship.
These meetings included the United Arab Emirates’ Minister for the Economy, Sultan Al Mansouri and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
Two-way trade between our countries is growing strongly. In just 15 years, the UAE has grown to become our 14th largest trading partner overall. In 2011 our two-way trade totalled AUD $6.4 billion.
Aviation is an essential part of our growing relationship and during my visit, I discussed with Tim Clark, CEO of Emirates, the implications of the proposed partnership between Qantas and Emirates which is subject to regulatory approval.
I also met with Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports and took the opportunity to inspect Terminal 3 of the airport which will cater for more than 80 million passengers annually when Concourse A opens.
Aviation supports trade by carrying the 40,000 Australians that visit the UAE each month and the 45,000 Emiratis that visited Australia last year.
The planned operations by Qantas to Dubai, together with Virgin Australia’s services to Abu Dhabi, have the potential to strengthen our aviation ties and deepen our bilateral relationship.