UAE takes over the chair of IORA
Piracy, armed robbery, drug smuggling and human trafficking are some of the major challenges faced in the Indian Ocean waters, according to members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
Speaking at a Press conference on the sidelines of the 19th meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) that concluded in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, Khurshed Alam, secretary of the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs and deputy secretary-general of the IORA, said almost 40,000 ships are passing through the waters of Indian Ocean daily.
“Somali pirates have in the past years been a big threat to the region’s waters but they have now reduced,” said Alam, adding that they have increased security on the waters through creating fusion centres in strategic locations including a British centre in Oman.
At the three-day meeting, the UAE took over from South Africa as the chair of the organisation for the next two years and pledged to work to “reinvigorate” the goal of creating an IORA Development Fund.
Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, said as part of efforts to promote prosperity in the Indian Ocean region, the UAE has chosen to focus on the three key priority areas of Maritime Safety and Security, Trade and Investment Facilitation and Tourism and Cultural Exchange, as well as the two focus areas of the Blue Economy and Women’s Economic Empowerment.
“We shall also focus on women empowerment and growth of the least developed countries in the region,” said Al Sayegh.
“It is time for all nations to work together to build a better future for this region, and to hasten development with a particular focus on the least developed countries of the Indian Ocean Rim.”
He added: “To further underline our commitment to promoting the role of the IORA, I announce our intention to reinvigorate and advance one of its long-held goals – an IORA Development Fund. It is the UAE’s firm belief that such a fund is essential in delivering on the great economic potential of the Indian Ocean Rim that we have all talked about for so long.”
On the recent tensions in the Gulf waters, the UAE minister said this is something “we take seriously and we have designed multilateral programmes to increase security in the region to patrol the waters”.