By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates can be a bridge between Central America and the Arabian Gulf, according to a senior Costa Rican official.
In an exclusive interview with Emirates News Agency (WAM) at the Costa Rican Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Adriana Bolaños Argueta, deputy minister of foreign affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, also said that the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) in Abu Dhabi, the world’s first graduate-level, research-based AI university, can contribute to building AI capabilities in her country.
The minister stressed that the UAE is an important player from the Arabian Gulf in Central America.
UAE as permanent observer to Central American group
“So it can be a bridge between the two regions. So I think it’s a start of a really good relationship between the two regions,” she said while talking about the invitation from Costa Rica, the current chair of the Central American Integration System (SICA), to the UAE to attend the Council of Foreign Ministers in June to sign the accession document as Permanent Observer to the SICA.
The regional group has eight member countries such as Dominican Republic, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
“So it is really important for us to have the UAE in SICA when we gather all the ministers and presidents. Emirates can meet with those eight countries and the Emirates can play a really important role in SICA,” she emphasised.
Asked the possible benefit from cooperation between both regions, Argueta said both parties could complement each other in many sectors. “I think in every relationship, we have to start knowing each other. As Costa Rica and the Emirates know each other, we are ready for a new step [UAE as an observer in SICA],” said the deputy foreign minister who was on her first official visit to the UAE last week.
MBZUAI to help develop AI capabilities in Costa Rica
Argueta said Costa Rica finds huge potential in cooperation with the UAE in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies.
She said that the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) in Abu Dhabi could contribute to the development of AI capabilities in Costa Rica as she has explored the exchange of best practices and scholarship opportunities for Costa Rican students at MBZUAI during the visit.
The students coming to learn AI in the UAE can act as a cultural bridge between both countries, she added.
As Costa Rica is looking for a green and sustainable recovery from the impact of the global pandemic, the country has to fill the digital gap among the people, the minister noted.
Digital services should be accessible to all. AI capacities will help bridge the digital gap and digital transformation in the country, Argueta explained.
Similar opinion on MBZUAI
In 2020, Danny Faure, the then the president of Seychelles, had also echoed a similar opinion. The MBZUAI will “help and benefit small countries,” he had said in an interview with WAM in Abu Dhabi.
“It is very good that the UAE has taken this initiative because small countries such as Seychelles will benefit from it,” he had said.
With an area of 455 square kilometres and a population of around 95,000, Seychelles is a tiny African island nation in the Indian Ocean.
“Given the size of my country with limited human resources, instead of trying it our own [Artificial Intelligence education], I think we can rely on a country like the UAE. Our excellent bilateral relationship gives us the opportunity to have a partnership with the UAE to allow our students to benefit from this novel initiative,” he had said.
UAE – Costa Rica’s most important partner in region
The UAE is Costa Rica’s most important partner in the Middle East, the deputy foreign minister emphasised. She thanked the UAE for offering support to fight COVID in Costa Rica.
Argueta was referring to the two aid planes sent by the UAE, carrying medical supplies and testing kits to support medical professionals fighting COVID-19 last year.
The first plane carrying 8.5 metric tonnes of medical supplies was sent last June and the second one with 12 metric tonnes of medical supplies and testing kits was dispatched last October.
The minister expressed confidence that bilateral economic relations would improve further.
As per the UAE government’s figures, the bilateral trade in 20109 stood at AED125.7 million. The 2021 figures have not been compiled yet, she said.