Prime Minister Boyko Borissov arrived in the United Arab Emirates for a two-day working visit. In Abu Dhabi, the Bulgarian Prime Minister was greeted by Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, who, in addition to being the Minister of State for Defense Affairs, is also the Vice President of the country's largest investment company, Mubadala Group, and a board member of the Free Zone for Development of Defense Technologies Tawazun.
Tomorrow Prime Minister Borissov will meet with the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Their talks at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace will be a follow-up to their meeting last October, when the Bulgarian Prime Minister paid an official visit to the UAE. The forthcoming meeting is indicative of the dynamic development of the Bulgarian-Emirates relations and the existence of a common goal for cooperation in a wide range of areas.
The United Arab Emirates is an important and prospective foreign trade partner of Bulgaria among the Gulf states. The UAE’s highly industrialized economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and it is in our interest to develop our trade-related and economic cooperation with this country. Currently the investment potential of the UAE, which ranks 37th in degree of direct investments in Bulgaria, is underutilized. It is essential to find an intersection between the UAE's desire to expand its political and economic partnerships and to diversify its investment portfolio on the one hand and on the other - Bulgaria's interest in developing high-tech industries and services and creating high-performing jobs.
There are opportunities to develop the cooperation between Bulgaria and the UAE in a number of areas, such as digital economy, education, culture, transport, energy, as well as in sectoral cooperation in domestic affairs, the fight against organized crime and terrorism. There are also good prospects for tourism development, where significant growth is reported. In 2012, the number of Bulgarian tourists in the UAE was 356, while in 2018 it reached approximately 4900. There is also an increase in the number of tourist visits from the UAE to our country.
Bulgaria is also actively preparing for its participation in the upcoming EXPO 2020 World Exhibition in Dubai, UAE. Last December, the Bulgarian government approved our country's participation in the exhibition. Bulgaria will present its pavilion and overall image within the Mobility sub-theme, reflecting our strategic geographical position in terms of transport corridors and market access. Within the framework of the exhibition from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021, Bulgaria and the Bulgarian companies will have the opportunity to establish business contacts and exchange experiences.