KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is anticipating more cooperation with the UAE in fighting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic after its king’s visit to Abu Dhabi, officials and experts said.
The Malaysian monarch, Sultan Abdullah, on Friday arrived in the UAE for a five-day visit at the invitation of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, during which Abu Dhabi donated 500,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to the southeast Asian country.
“Malaysia and the UAE have joined hands to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and for post-COVID-19 recovery,” Malaysian Royal Household Comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said in a statement on Friday.
The vaccine donation and the special visit, he added, “reflect a strong and close relationship between the two countries.”
While authorities have not specified which vaccine was donated by the UAE, Kuala Lumpur said it would be used for Phase 3 trials which, if successful, would pave the way for its broader use in the country.
“Even though it is only 500,000 doses the most important criteria are that the doses are a part of the third-phase trial,” Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategy professor, Azmi Hassan, told Arab News on Monday, adding that it was not the first time the UAE had supported Malaysia with medical aid, especially during the pandemic.
The UAE has been donating medical equipment and test kits to Malaysia since the beginning of the outbreak in March.
“Should the trials turn out successful, Malaysia is in no doubt in a good position to procuring more doses of vaccines,” Hassan said.
UAE has been supporting Malaysia with medical equipment, test kits since start of outbreak in March.
He pointed out that the king’s visit would not only help in the COVID-19 response and boosting trade relations, but also in establishing special corridors for travel amid virus restrictions.
“Not only trade between Malaysia and UAE will be enhanced but I believe the movement of people between the countries would be made easier with the establishment of the so-called green or safe lanes,” he added.
As Sultan Abdullah and Sheikh Mohammed are former classmates from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK, Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun said the visit at a time of global crisis showed the importance of personal diplomacy.
“This is a testimonial both to the traditionally close relationship between Malaysia and the Gulf countries as well as to the renewed importance of personal diplomacy between heads of state at a turbulent time,” he told Arab News.
Sheikh Mohammed visited Malaysia last year when Sultan Abdullah was proclaimed the country’s king.