Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

Indonesian president Joko Widodo. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

  • The president is scheduled to deliver a speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on Monday
  • The president is inspired by how cities in UAE are developed as smart, green cities

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s president is seeking to land $20 billion worth of deals during his trip to Abu Dhabi through bilateral and business talks.

President Joko Widodo, who arrived in the UAE on Sunday, is hoping to secure investment agreements in the energy, health, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors, as well as development projects for the country’s new capital in East Kalimantan.

“The president is inspired by how cities in UAE are developed as smart, green cities and they are one of the models for the new capital’s development,” Achmad Rizal Purnama, director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, told Arab News.

He added that the two countries were also set to sign a cooperation agreement on Islamic education that would emphasize religious moderation and tolerance, which showed the “true face of Islam” amid rising extremism and intolerance.

Government minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who led the Indonesian side in negotiations and preparation for the visit, said that cooperation on Islamic matters would also include the construction of a mosque in Solo, Central Java, that would be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s grand mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. The mosque’s construction is due to start this month.

He said earlier this week that the investment agreements to be signed during the visit would be worth up to $20 billion.

Pandjaitan visited Abu Dhabi in December to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and prepare for the president’s two-day visit, securing some initial agreements that would be signed during the visit such as projects with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to develop state-owned oil company Pertamina’s refinery in Balongan, West Java, and an agreement with Mubadala to develop Pertamina’s refinery in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. 

The state electricity company would sign an agreement with renewable energy company Masdar to develop a 145-megawatt floating solar power plant in Cirata, West Java. State-owned mining holding company Inalum would sign an agreement with aluminum producer Emirates Global Aluminium to develop a smelter and a hydropower plant with 500,000 tons of production capacity per year.

His meetings in Abu Dhabi also included preparation for a memorandum of understanding that would secure the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s involvement in Indonesia’s infrastructure development, and extending an invitation to the crown prince to send a team to see a hydropower potential in Papua and North Kalimantan.

“We hope that the UAE would become a partner to develop several carbon projects in Indonesia,” he said.

In the agriculture sector, Indonesia and the UAE would have a business-to-government agreement between the UAE’s Elite Agro and Indonesia’s Agricultural Research and Development Agency to develop a tropical greenhouse in West Java and Central Kalimantan and research the possibility of cultivating tropical plants in the Middle East and Africa.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters on Thursday at the presidential palace that the Abu Dhabi visit was a follow-up of the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia in July, during which companies from the two countries signed agreements totaling $9.7 billion in investment value.

Purnama said that, since the July visit, investment cooperation between the two countries had been developing fast and significantly, making the UAE one of Indonesia’s main investment partners.

The president is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on Monday.

“He will address the future global challenges on energy, a new paradigm on energy security to sustainable energy and how to accommodate the climate change,” Purnama said.


Parents of Pakistan students in China coronavirus center vent anger at ministers

Updated 19 February 2020

Parents of Pakistan students in China coronavirus center vent anger at ministers

  • Health minister Mirza said he would convey the parents’ anger at a cabinet meeting on Thursday
  • Pakistan has said its embassy in Beijing is supporting students and a two-person team traveled to Wuhan this week to meet students and gather more information about their situation

ISLAMABAD: Angry parents of Pakistani students stuck in the locked down province at the center of China’s coronavirus outbreak confronted government ministers at a meeting on Wednesday, demanding their children are evacuated.
Pakistan has so far ruled out bringing home the more than 1,000 students in Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, where three-quarters of the more than 2,000 deaths from the outbreak of the flu-like virus have been recorded.
Health Minister Zafar Mirza and Minister for Overseas Citizens Zulfiqar Bukhari briefed parents for the first time on Wednesday, telling them the students’ welfare was better off in China and Pakistan did not have adequate facilities to quarantine them if they returned.
But hundreds interrupted the briefing, with some seizing microphones to say they did not want to listen to officials until their children were returned and dozens flooding the stage to crowd around the ministers.
“Bring our kids back, they have been in lockdown for 25 days...they are not getting any support...from you,” one family member who took the microphone said.
Health minister Mirza said he would convey the parents’ anger at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Pakistan has said its embassy in Beijing is supporting students and a two-person team traveled to Wuhan this week to meet students and gather more information about their situation.
The overseas citizens minister and a spokesman for the health minister did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.
More than 400 parents traveled from around the country to attend the meeting at a school in Islamabad and around 100 protested with placards outside after the meeting, blocking a nearby road. Protests in the larger cities of Lahore and Karachi were held last week.
Many students and their families have expressed growing frustration as the death toll in China mounts, pointing to other countries, including neighboring India and Bangladesh, evacuating their citizens.
Muhammad Wasim Akram, whose wife is a fourth year medical student in the city of Shiyan in Hubei, said he had traveled five hours to the meeting but was left disappointed.
“I traveled from Lahore to attend this nonsense. I feel nothing (has been done)...shame on the government,” he told Reuters, adding students’ mental health was eroding after being stuck inside for weeks, while their access to food and bottled water was limited.