Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip
Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JAKARTA: Indonesia’s president is seeking to land $20 billion worth of deals during his trip to Abu Dhabi through bilateral and business talks.

President Joko Widodo, who arrived in the UAE on Sunday, is hoping to secure investment agreements in the energy, health, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors, as well as development projects for the country’s new capital in East Kalimantan.

“The president is inspired by how cities in UAE are developed as smart, green cities and they are one of the models for the new capital’s development,” Achmad Rizal Purnama, director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, told Arab News.

He added that the two countries were also set to sign a cooperation agreement on Islamic education that would emphasize religious moderation and tolerance, which showed the “true face of Islam” amid rising extremism and intolerance.

Government minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who led the Indonesian side in negotiations and preparation for the visit, said that cooperation on Islamic matters would also include the construction of a mosque in Solo, Central Java, that would be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s grand mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. The mosque’s construction is due to start this month.

He said earlier this week that the investment agreements to be signed during the visit would be worth up to $20 billion.

Pandjaitan visited Abu Dhabi in December to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and prepare for the president’s two-day visit, securing some initial agreements that would be signed during the visit such as projects with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to develop state-owned oil company Pertamina’s refinery in Balongan, West Java, and an agreement with Mubadala to develop Pertamina’s refinery in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. 

The state electricity company would sign an agreement with renewable energy company Masdar to develop a 145-megawatt floating solar power plant in Cirata, West Java. State-owned mining holding company Inalum would sign an agreement with aluminum producer Emirates Global Aluminium to develop a smelter and a hydropower plant with 500,000 tons of production capacity per year.

His meetings in Abu Dhabi also included preparation for a memorandum of understanding that would secure the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s involvement in Indonesia’s infrastructure development, and extending an invitation to the crown prince to send a team to see a hydropower potential in Papua and North Kalimantan.

“We hope that the UAE would become a partner to develop several carbon projects in Indonesia,” he said.

In the agriculture sector, Indonesia and the UAE would have a business-to-government agreement between the UAE’s Elite Agro and Indonesia’s Agricultural Research and Development Agency to develop a tropical greenhouse in West Java and Central Kalimantan and research the possibility of cultivating tropical plants in the Middle East and Africa.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters on Thursday at the presidential palace that the Abu Dhabi visit was a follow-up of the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia in July, during which companies from the two countries signed agreements totaling $9.7 billion in investment value.

Purnama said that, since the July visit, investment cooperation between the two countries had been developing fast and significantly, making the UAE one of Indonesia’s main investment partners.

The president is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on Monday.

“He will address the future global challenges on energy, a new paradigm on energy security to sustainable energy and how to accommodate the climate change,” Purnama said.

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