23 Mar 2015
Source: Gulf News, 23 March 2015
Ambassador says founding father liked comparisons between the two nations
Dubai: Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, who died yesterday, admired the leadership of the UAE and saw similarities between his island nation and the UAE as a way for both countries to learn from one another. The relationship between the two global hubs is based on mutual respect and healthy competition, Umej Bhatia, Singapore’s Ambassador to the UAE, toldGulf News.
“There’s a lot of a similarity in terms of leadership vision and Mr Lee exemplified that, just as Shaikh Zayed, the founding father of the nation, as well as His Highbess Shaikh Mohammad [Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai] and the current leadership. He recognised the success and he always wished the best to the UAE.”
Lee visited the UAE on at least four separate occasions and noted the parallels of rapid growth between the two countries — particularly when it came to successes in aviation, tourism, finance and conventions.
Bhatia said that there’s lot of shared knowledge between Singapore and the UAE and the manner in which both pursue their independence.
Economically, Bhatia puts trade value between the two countries at Dh95 billion annually, with exports to the UAE up by 10 per cent at the end of last year. He estimated that 75,000 visitors from the UAE travel to Singapore annually.
Lee’s legacy will be remembered as turning Singapore from a Third World country to become the world’s first global city, Bhatia said. “His contribution has been transformational,” the ambassador said. “He created the basis for a sustainable development.”