By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 28th March, 2022 (WAM) — Estonia and the UAE will join hands in global climate action to keep the world a better place, Estonian President Alar Karis told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
“As the UAE and other countries are trying to live environmental friendly to keep our world in a better condition, not only for our kids but also for ourselves, we will definitely be present at COP28 [to be hosted by the UAE],” he said, referring to the potential collaboration at the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Abu Dhabi in 2023.
“We will definitely collaborate [at COP28],” reiterated the scientist-turned- president in an exclusive interview with WAM at Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, during his three-day official visit to the UAE.
Karis became the president five months ago, of the Baltic nation that gained independence after the collapse the Soviet Union in 1991. Estonia, the most northerly of the three Baltic states [along with Latvia and Lithuania], has become one of the most economically successful of the European Union’s newer eastern European members.
150 enterprises, €130mn trade drive business ties
Talking about the strategic importance of Estonia’s diplomatic relations with the UAE, the president said both countries have already established robust economic ties.
“Although we are two distant lands, quite a number of Estonians come to the UAE as tourists and we should work on it to have more and more contacts, not only in tourism but in all sectors. We have to exchange ideas and businesses.”
Currently around 150 Estonian businesses, mainly in IT sector, are operating in the UAE and bilateral trade during the past one year  was valued at €130 million (AED523 million), Karis noted.
“Of course, you can have more and more [business] but now we have to add more and more contacts [in business and cultural domains].”
Cooperation in e-government, education Estonia and the UAE can collaborate in digitalisation and education, the president said.
Estonia considers itself a digital nation, offering most of the government services online.
Public-private sector collaboration plays an important role in online services, he pointed out. Since the UAE’s e-government is offering most of the services online, both countries can collaborate in this area, Karis said.
“I know that UAE wants to become the smartest nation and the most educated nation,” noted the President, who announced after assuming the office that Estonia has to be the most educated nation in the world.
“This is something which is very important for us,” said Karis, adding that both countries can also work together in education sector.
Expo 2020, meeting with leaders
The president attended the Estonian National Day celebrations at the Expo 2020 Dubai.
“At Expo 2020 Dubai, you see what’s happening in the world, especially in innovation, culture and also in economy. So, you get to know a world better and you make contacts. That’s important. Expo is the right place to have this kind of things and I hope my visit also brings some [impetus] in this relationship between our countries.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, received Karis at the Expo and discussed ways to boost bilateral cooperation especially in digital governance and digital economy. They also explored greater collaboration between the two countries in future industries, e-services and other advanced sectors.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has met with the Estonian President at Expo 2020 Dubai. The sides exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern, including developments in Ukraine, and ways to strengthen the efforts to find a political solution to the crisis.
He also had a very interesting career as a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist, academic, auditor general and director of National Museum. Asked about his shift from one different area to another, he said, “It’s definitely not deliberate path, it just happened”.
As his stint as the director of National Museum showed his interest in art and history; asked whether as a politician, does he think politics is more of an art or more of politics itself, the president replied, “Probably depends on the politician! Art is influenced by politics and politics is influenced by art. So, it has always been so. They are influenced by each other, of course!”