Abu Dhabi: The contributions of about 750,000 southeast Asians living in the UAE are worth mentioning on the occasion of 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), a senior diplomat told Gulf News.
“These people from seven Asean nations are committed to their work and contribute to the development of the UAE and their home countries. This is their second home,” said Komate Kamalanavin, the Ambassador of Thailand to the UAE who is also the chairman of the Asean Committee in Abu Dhabi (ACAD).
As the UAE has welcomed them here with open hands, the Asean embassies always urge their citizens to strictly follow the rules and regulations of the land, he said on the sidelines of the Asean’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was the chief guest. Shaikh Sultan Bin Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, director of the Department of East Asia and Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was also present. Scores of guests including diplomats, community members, and other officials attended the celebrations that also showcased various cultural programmes from the Asean region.
The Thai ambassador said the 10-member Asean is the sixth largest economic bloc in the world with $2.5 trillion (Dh9.18 trillion) collective GDP. “It is an organisation that actively engages the global and regional powers. Within the GCC, the Asean has found a like-minded partner in the UAE,” Kamalanavin said.
“Although Asean nations have diverse cultures, we celebrate our unity in diversity,” he said.
Asean is a regional grouping established on August 8, 1967 with the signing of the Bangkok declaration, aiming to promote economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the Southeast Asian region. Its ten members are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. All of them have their embassies in the UAE, except Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Husin Bagis, the Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News that the Asean is one of the most powerful regional groupings in the world.
Samuel Tan, the Singaporean Ambassador to the UAE, said Asean nations with around 620 million population is a big market that has opened its doors of opportunities to small economies such as Singapore.
Yoko Ramos Vingo, chairperson of the Asean Ladies Circle in Abu Dhabi, said it is an avenue for women from the region to get together and share ideas. “We meet monthly and conduct several regular programmes,” she said.