Chinedu Eze and Oluchi Chibuzor
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo Saturday put the value of bilateral trade between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at $1.2 billion, noting that both countries would continue to become strong regional players.
Osinbajo made the disclosure at the 2019 United Arab Emirate (UAE)-Nigeria Cultural and Arts Exhibition 2019 held in Lagos.
He noted that there trade between the two countries had been in the increase.
The Vice President described the relationship between the two countries as strong and necessary and remarked that there were many other sectors of the economy where both countries could cooperate to achieve greater partnership.
He added that both countries had been supportive to each other in different areas, as seen recently in the creative industry.
He said Nigerians were some of the most frequent African visitors to Dubai, many of whom, of course, visit for tourism, but that he was sure that many years to come, tourists would be visiting both countries for arts and culture.
Osinbajo also added that as both countries were major regional players, a relationship of this depth was necessary and commended the Middle East nation, noting that UAE had been particularly supportive of Nigeria in many ways, including in harder areas of terrorism and in aiding in the recovery of stolen funds.
He said Nigeria and the UAE “have a deep and fruitful relationship that is growing at a promising rate. But one area where we are also beginning to see exciting collaboration with the UAE is in the Creative Industry.
“I’m sure you’re all familiar with the movie Chief Daddy, the movie, or the Wedding Party movies, the sequel of which was set in Dubai and went on to become one of Nigeria’s highest-grossing films.
“These movies were the results of partnerships between Nollywood’s, EbonyLife Films and Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. We are excited that these collaborations are bringing in about so much, not just money, but also perhaps more importantly, the cultural links between our people.”
Osinbajo added that he was excited to see how the artists chose to open a dialogue with both countries through their works but equally how this event would enable Nigerians open a dialogue with the UAE.
“We can ensure that our relationship is always of creative and has some cultural value. This is not going to be at the diplomatic level, rather at the more interactive, person-to-person level.
“The artists, dancers, filmmakers, photographers and musicians that showcase at this exhibition, give us a glimpse into the richness and power of art and the arts in both cultures and what collaboration can do and what the future is in terms of working together.”
Also at the exhibition, the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Fahad AlTaffaq said culture was a powerful tool used to build bridges between people and reinforce mutual understanding.
He noted that it could also be a catalyst for economic and social development not only in its traditional forms but through partnerships with the private sector and further development of the tourism sector.
“Nigeria is also filled with rich artistic heritage and endowed with the abundance of creativity dating back thousands of years. Nigerian cultural gems are well demonstrated through dance, art, folklore, music etc. These include but are not limited to the exquisite Benin bronze sculptures, the Igbo-Ukwu and Ile-Ife bronze works and the Esie stone carvings.
“Others include the woodwork from various tribes in the South-south of Nigeria, the pottery work of people around the Federal Capital Territory, the leather works of the North and many more.
“Promoting cultural ties between the UAE and Nigeria creates opportunities for the exchange of information, ideas and interaction between relevant stakeholders in the cultural and arts industry,” he said.
Other dignitaries present at the exhibition include members of diplomatic corps, representatives of the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.