UAE opens Havana embassy and agrees $15m loan

havana-live-UAE embassyHAVANA, Oct. 8 The UAE has opened an embassy in Havana and signed agreements with the Cuban government to enhance bilateral agreements between the two countries, with focus on the aviation and renewable energy sectors.

During his official 24-hour visit to Cuba this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed first met with the country’s first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel.

The ceremony of the official opening of the country’s Embassy in Havana was attended by his Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

“I am sure that the next few years will witness the prosperity of our ties,” Sheikh Abdullah was quoted as saying by the state news agency WAM.

The Cuban foreign minister also reaffirmed his government’s support for Arab peoples “in their struggle to maintain their independence and territorial integrity.”

The cooperation in the aviation sector will help open up opportunities for increased international air transport. The latest agreement builds upon the 2014 signing of an open skies agreement between the UAE and Cuba, and discussions between Russia and Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi-based investment company, to build an airport in Cuba.

The visit was also marked by signing of a AED55 million ($14.9 million) concessionary loan agreement between the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and the Cuban government to finance a 10MW solar energy farm that would provide electricity for 5,300 Cubans.

Furthermore, the UAE diplomatic team also discussed enhancing cooperation in ports, infrastructure, medicine and medical research, agriculture and tourism, the state news agency reported.

Formal ties between the UAE and Cuba were established in 2002 while the first visit of an Emirati foreign minister took place in 2009.