Monday, November 9, 2015

Time ripe for stronger Thai-Emirati ties

(My article along with colleague Mariecar Jara-Puyod in The Gulf Today)
SHARJAH: Thailand is focusing on infrastructure development, and the time is ripe for the UAE and organisations like DP World to step in with investments on upcoming deep seaport projects there.
Thailand’s Ambassador to the UAE Warawudh Chuwiruch said this during a meeting with Aysha Taryam, Editor in Chief of The Gulf Today, and senior members of the editorial team at the Dar Al Khaleej Printing and Publishing house in Sharjah on Sunday morning. He noted that activities are ongoing to develop new deep seaports in places like Songkla and Pak Bara on the southwest border of the Southeast Asian kingdom near Malaysia.
Chuwiruch also discussed the progress of Abu Dhabi-Bangkok diplomatic relations, as it approaches its 40th anniversary in December.
There are approximately 12,000 Thais residing in the UAE, with 40 Muslim students under scholarship grants by the UAE government.
Saying that Emiratis feel at home while visiting his home country, the ambassador mentioned the Chiva-Som international resort in Hua Hin, which is increasingly drawing tourist attention.
“Several visitors, including royals, filmstars, dignitaries and CEOs, have told me that those who visit this place surely return for another trip owing to the exhilarating ambience there,” Chuwiruch said.
He added, “There is so much peace of mind and a healthy surrounding that tourists love this place.”
On new tourism destinations, Chuwiruch mentioned a recently-discovered lake in the northeastern part of the country, said to be perennially pink due to the lotus in full bloom throughout the year.
He volunteered that taking a trip to this new tourist attraction is in his books. 
On possible UAE investments in Thailand’s seaports, he said doing so will change the trading geography of Southeast Asia in less than four years.
The project would give shippers direct sea access to the Middle East and North Africa, as it would also offer entry to Europe through the Suez Canal.
The ambassador traced the beginnings of Abu Dhabi-Bangkok diplomatic relations in January 1992, when the Royal Consulate General of Thailand in Dubai was inaugurated, to be followed by the opening of the Royal Embassy of Thailand (RET) in the capital on Nov.3, 1994.
The UAE Embassy in Bangkok was launched in April 1998. Various agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) are being negotiated between Abu Dhabi and Bangkok for more enhanced “mutual prosperity and sustainability”.
These include the Agreement on Extradition, Agreement on Cooperation and Commercial Matters, Cultural Agreement, Agreement on the Exemption of Visa for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports, and the MoU on Combating Trafficking in Person.  
In case of food shortage or similar scenarios, Thailand is “committed to provide the UAE with vital food items in an immediate manner.”
UAE health authorities are scheduled to visit Thailand in 2016 to check on medical tourism.
Chuwiruch said, “Under the international framework, both Thailand and the UAE are committed to supporting the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community.”
“We have worked bilaterally, as well as through the regional and the United Nations framework, to achieve these goals,” he added.
Chuwiruch highlighted the significance of the role people play in the promotion of amity and unity among nations.
Thais in the UAE, as “social ambassadors”, are encouraged to represent their homeland in various cultural activities through the various cultural entities across the emirates.
For the Nov.25 to Dec.5 UAE National Day celebrations, a traditional Thai troupe will perform across the country, courtesy of the RET and the UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
“They are Muslims and they are so happy to be able to come to the UAE to learn traditional Arabian culture, too,” he said.

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