CR-2
United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (left) and his host, Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González, in the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry after signing the agreements reached during the Emirati minister’s visit.  Photo: Foreign Ministry of Costa Rica

Q24N (IPS) A visit by United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Costa Rica earlier his month paved the way for closer trade ties between the two countries, especially in the areas of tourism and sustainable energy.

During the first official visit ever to Costa Rica, Al Nahyan and his Costa Rican counterpart and host, Manuel González, signed two agreements.

One of them refers to air services, and will boost visits by Emirati tourists to Costa Rica. They also agreed to immediately begin the process of negotiating and promoting investment in tourism.

“This agreement opens up opportunities to take better advantage of air services between the two countries,” Al Nahyan said in Costa Rica’s presidential palace, after an official meeting with this country’s president, Luis Guillermo Solis, at the start of his one-day visit to San José on Friday Feb. 12.

“I think you have a wonderful, beautiful country,” the minister said in a press conference at the end of his meeting with the president. “Of course, there is the problem of the distance between us, but I believe that after opening the air route between Dubai and Panama City, it will be easier to get back and forth between our countries.”

He was referring to the new Emirates airlines route that will begin to operate on Mar. 31 as the world’s longest flight – nearly 18 hours – according to the company.

Al Nahyan also announced that mechanisms would be sought to facilitate visas between the two countries, in order to expedite trade.

“We have a lot of work to do with my colleague, Costa Rica’s foreign minister, to talk to the airlines and make sure things work out,” he said.

A flight between Panama City and San José takes less than one hour, and more and more airlines are connecting the two cities.