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Jakarta Post

Indonesia and UAE, from vision to action

Jakarta   /   Mon, January 13, 2020   /   09:18 am
Indonesia and UAE, from vision to action President Joko Widodo chat with Abu dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan from UAE during the prince visit in Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

As President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo arrived on Sunday in Abu Dhabi on an official visit, we are witnessing how the two nations’ shared vision for moderation and sustainable energy is taking their bilateral relations to a new era.

President Jokowi is in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to repay the visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in July 2019 and to deliver a keynote speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

Conducted amid ongoing tensions in the region, the President’s visit gives fresh impetus to cooperation over confrontation, dialogues over conflict and peace and security over instability. President Jokowi seems to underline the need for the international community to redouble its efforts for peace and security in the Middle East. When peace and stability are in place, developments and prosperity follow.

The visit is strengthening the extensive ties between Indonesia and the UAE, allowing both not only to improve their diplomatic bonds but also to contribute to efforts to address global issues posed by violent extremism, radicalism, terrorism and energy security vis-à-vis climate change.

The world sees an imminent threat in the expansion of violent extremism, radicalism and terrorist ideology, hence this strategic interest between the two nations in promoting state models of moderate, modern and pluralistic Islam is crucial.

The future relations of Indonesia and the UAE will also rest upon their willingness to respond to the challenges of global energy security. Today, 1 billion people still lack electricity and cleaner energy. Energy and fossil fuel consumption has given rise to the impacts of climate change. Far more needs to be done to advance renewable and efficient energy in all sectors. Thus, Indonesian-UAE relations are being directed to answer those challenges through developing new energy partnerships.

Therefore, President Jokowi’s visit carries at least two messages. First, to promote strategic investment deals, particularly on sustainable energy, and to share his vision on green growth as a way to transform energy security into sustainable energy. Second, to promote the true values of Islam in advancing moderation and tolerance.

The Indonesia-UAE relationship has grown strategically since it was established 44 years ago.

The exchange of visits between leaders, as well as the recent conclusion of Islamic affairs, education, health and agriculture agreements together with significant business deals, have played an important role in strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries. 

Billions of dollars’ worth of business deals are to be generated from this visit and will stimulate bigger investments in the future. These business deals are testament to the trust and confidence of foreign investors in Indonesia. 

Our relations today are marked by close ties between our leaders, who share a belief in moderation and tolerance. Both leaders also call for inclusiveness and the need for the Muslim world to spread the true face of Islam, which promotes peace, tolerance and moderation.

The realization of this common vison can be seen in the initiative to build a mosque and an Islamic center in the Central Java city of Surakarta. Not only will the mosque and Islamic Center become the symbol of the Indonesian-UAE vision for peace and moderation, but also an epicenter for teaching, promoting and disseminating the moderate and tolerant values of Islam in Indonesia and in the region.

The two leaders also displayed their commitment to moderation through the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Islamic affairs.

Cooperation to instill noble Islamic values that reject violent extremism but promote tolerance and help raise Muslims’ level of understanding of moderation will be conducted through exchanges of experience and expertise, capacity building for imam, maintenance and management of mosques, introduction of Islam and the demonstration of its merits, as well as moderation and management of endowments.

At present, the most important thing is to strengthen the unity of the people and encourage more inclusiveness. This is what Indonesia and the UAE want to achieve in our immediate future cooperation.

Indonesia and the UAE also put great importance on sustainable energy. The strategic relations between the two countries provide a lot of opportunities and elements of development, which are very promising to invest in, especially because the two countries aim to secure sustainable energy.

Both leaders envision that the relations between Indonesia and the UAE could represent a platform for growth and progress in sustainable energy.

During the ADSW keynote speech, President Jokowi reiterated the need to find the middle way to build bridges between development and the solutions to climate change. President Jokowi said he was also convinced that there will be no green growth without sustainable development and there will be no sustainable development without sustainable energy as there will be no sustainable energy without sustainable cooperation.

It is in this spirit that both leaders agreed to the two countries’ sustainable cooperation over new and renewable energy.

As a concrete example: Masdar and PT Pembangkit Jawa-Bali (PJBi) just signed a contract to construct the world’s largest floating solar photovoltaic power plant – generating only clean energy and reducing the carbon footprint of the region. This technology hopefully will also be replicated in other several water reservoirs in Indonesia. 

As both the leaders of Indonesia and the UAE move to build on 44 years of relations, all of us must help them turn this noble vision into action.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.