Japan’s consul-general lauds Japan-UAE cooperation

Akima Umezawa, Japanese consul-general, Dubai
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Updated 14 January 2020

Japan’s consul-general lauds Japan-UAE cooperation

  • Japan and the UAE are cooperating under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative
  • Both countries are responsible players for peace and stability in the region and the world, says Umezawa

DUBAI: Japan and the UAE are effective and responsible players for the “peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world,” Japan’s consul-general in Dubai told Arab News.

Akima Umezawa said given the current tensions in the Middle East, the upcoming meeting of both countries’ leaders will “strengthen cordial relations but also contribute to the prevention of further escalation in the region.”

He added that Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s visit to the UAE will “enhance stable energy supplies and ensure safe navigation in the region by exchanging opinions and reconfirming the robust cooperation between Japan and not only the UAE, but also Saudi Arabia and Oman.”

Japan and the UAE are cooperating under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative, Umezawa said.

The initiative was agreed upon in 2018 by Abe and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The sectors covered include culture, defense, technology and security.

Umezawa expressed hope that the world will “recognize the beautiful collaboration between Japan and the UAE” through events such as this year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Dubai Expo.

Abe visited Saudi Arabia on Saturday, and was received by King Salman in Riyadh. The prime minister toured the historical site of AlUla, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

During his time in the UAE, Abe intends to discuss plans to send Self-Defense Forces personnel to the region, local media reported.
 


Syrian pound plummets as new US sanctions loom

Updated 06 June 2020

Syrian pound plummets as new US sanctions loom

  • Syria is in the thick of an economic crisis compounded by a coronavirus lockdown and a dollar liquidity crunch in neighboring Lebanon
  • The UN food agency said any further depreciation risked increasing the cost of imported basic food items

BEIRUT: Syria’s pound hit record lows on the black market Saturday trading at over 2,300 to the dollar, less than a third of its official value, traders said, ahead of new US sanctions.
Three traders in Damascus told AFP by phone that the dollar bought more than 2,300 Syrian pounds for the first time, though the official exchange rate remained fixed at around 700 pounds to the greenback.
After nine years of war, Syria is in the thick of an economic crisis compounded by a coronavirus lockdown and a dollar liquidity crunch in neighboring Lebanon.
Last month, the central bank warned it would clamp down on currency “manipulators.”
Analysts said concerns over the June 17 implementation of the US Caesar Act, which aims to sanction foreign persons who assist the Syrian government or help in post-war reconstruction, also contributed to the de fact devaluation.
Zaki Mehchy, a senior consulting fellow at Chatham House, said foreign companies — including from regime ally Russia — were already opting not to take any risks.
With money transactions requiring two to three weeks to implement, “today’s transactions will be paid after June 17,” he said.
Heiko Wimmen, Syria project director at the conflict tracker Crisis Group, said that with the act coming into force, “doing business with Syria will become even more difficult and risky.”
Both analysts said the fall from grace of top business tycoon Rami Makhlouf despite being a cousin of the president was also affecting confidence.
“The Makhlouf saga is spooking the rich,” Wimmen said.
After the Damascus government froze assets of the head of the country’s largest mobile phone operator and slapped a travel ban on him, the wealthy feel “nobody is safe,” he said.
They are thinking “you better get your assets and perhaps yourself out preparing for further shakedowns,” he said.
Mehchy said the impact of the pound’s decline and ensuing price hikes on Syrians would be “catastrophic.”
Most of Syria’s population lives in poverty, according to the United Nations, and food prices have doubled over the past year.
The UN food agency’s Jessica Lawson said any further depreciation risked increasing the cost of imported basic food items such as rice, pasta and lentils.
“These price increases risk pushing even more people into hunger, poverty and food insecurity as Syrians’ purchasing power continues to erode,” the World Food Programme spokeswoman said.
“Families may be forced to cut the quality and quantity of food they buy.”