The official visit of Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy to Dubai this week has bolstered the relationship between the UAE and the south Indian state.
Chandy, who had been in town for three days, spoke to Khaleej Times in an interview about the new chapters that have opened up in the bilateral relations with the UAE, that is home to an estimated one million Malayalees.
During the visit, he said he was assured of the UAE’s support for Kerala’s developmental projects in many ways. The UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, assured him of the UAE’s assistance in three infrastructure projects that Kerala deems the most important. “We will identify and convey these projects later.”
He said the Dubai Airport Free Zone has offered to help with their experience, expertise and contacts in developing and managing airport free zones in Kochi and Kannur.
“We have chosen these two airports for developing the free zones because we have the required land available only for them. It is practically difficult to implement such projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode airports where we don’t even have enough land for the airport expansion plans.”
These projects will follow the large investments made by UAE entities for the Smart City project and Vallarpadam Container Transshipment Terminal in Kochi.
He said his government will also cooperate with the UAE in a recently announced study on Labour Recruitment Industry between the UAE and Kerala.
The Indian state and Nepal were reportedly chosen as targets for the field study as per an agreement signed by the UAE Ministry of Labour and the International Organisation for Migration.
“I have not yet had the details of this study. But, we will be happy to cooperate with any such effort that will help bring in more transparency and help collect accurate data,” he said. Chandy was invited by the government to speak at the Annual Investors Meet (AIM) in Dubai.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, interacted with him at his palace while Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women’s Union (GWU) and the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, sent sweets and dates for him and his family from her palace in Abu Dhabi.
Speaking after inaugurating the 20th anniversary celebrations of the World Malayalee Council on Tuesday night, Chandy attributed all praise that he has received to the hard work of Malayalees living here.
“I was so proud to hear the Ruler of Dubai taking note of the work of people from Kerala. Malayalees abroad have earned this good reputation for their hard work and I’m sure they will keep it up,” he told the audience who came from different emirates.
During the visit, Chandy received hundreds of Malayalees in various locations. He said most of the complaints received from the public were related to issues back in Kerala, mainly involving property disputes.