Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

Indonesian president Joko Widodo. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

  • The president is scheduled to deliver a speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on Monday
  • The president is inspired by how cities in UAE are developed as smart, green cities

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.

Military promises Pakistani doctors gear to fight virus

Updated 07 April 2020

Military promises Pakistani doctors gear to fight virus

  • Some of the doctors said they were mistreated by police and that some of their colleagues were beaten
  • The health ministry’s spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said 27,039 people have recovered so far while 3,987 remain in critical condition

QUETTA, Pakistan: Pakistan’s military promised Tuesday that dozens of doctors who were briefly jailed for protesting a lack of protective equipment needed to treat the growing number of coronavirus cases will get the equipment they need.
The 47 doctors protested in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, on Monday, when they were detained. They were released later the same day, according to provincial spokesman Liaquat Shahwani.
An army statement on Tuesday said the “emergency supplies of medical equipment, including PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) are being dispatched to Quetta.”
However, some of the doctors said they were mistreated by police and that some of their colleagues were beaten. The physicians declined to give their names, fearing reprisals.
Two doctors have died after contracting the new virus in Pakistan, which has recorded 4,004 cases and 54 deaths. Many of the cases have been traced to pilgrims returning from neighboring Iran. Pakistani authorities have imposed a countrywide lockdown until April 14.
In Iran, authorities struggling to battle the virus announced Tuesday they would expand testing to asymptomatic people, but didn’t say how many test kits they have available or provide other details.
Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that with active screening of such cases, there are expectations the virus and COVID-19, the illness it causes, can be brought under control by mid-May.
“With this step, we will go after people without symptoms,” said Namaki, adding this would require a large number of tests. He didn’t elaborate. The health ministry said searching for asymptomatic cases would be combined with restrictions on both city and intercity travel and quarantine.
Iran is facing the worst outbreak in the region. Iran’s state TV said Tuesday the new coronavirus has killed another 133 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 3,872 amid 62,589 confirmed cases.
The health ministry’s spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said 27,039 people have recovered so far while 3,987 remain in critical condition.
There are nearly 109,000 confirmed cases across the Middle East, with more than 4,600 fatalities.
In Egypt, the Ministry of Religious Endowments, which oversees mosques nationwide, called off all celebrations and late-evening prayer services for Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. The holiday, when devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, begins April 23. Mosques and churches have already closed for prayer to curb the spread of the virus in the Arab world’s most populous country. There is also a nightly curfew but the government has resisted a harsher lockdown.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday sought to reassure the jittery public a day after officials reported 149 new infections, bringing the case count to 1,320 and 85 fatalities in the biggest single-day jump so far.
“So far, the situation is under control,” he said in televised comments. “The goal is to minimize the damage caused by the pandemic.”
The Egyptian military, at the forefront of the country’s fight against the virus, said it set up four field hospitals with more than 500 beds to help treat virus patients.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death.
At a retirement home ravaged by the coronavirus in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, another resident died, the eighth so far there. Dozens of the home’s resident’s have been infected and relatives have been staging angry protests outside the premises in recent days.
Overall, more than 9,000 have been infected in Israel and 60 have died, the vast majority elderly and many in assisted living facilities.