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Prabowo strengthens defence collaboration with UAE president

Jakarta Post - May 16, 2024

Yvette Tanamal, Jakarta – On the first stopover of his nearly week-long Middle East tour, defence Minister Prabowo Subianto met United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, popularly known as MBZ, on Tuesday to discuss, among other issues, strengthening of the two countries' security cooperation amid an increasingly complicated geopolitical landscape.

Defence and "several possible avenues for [security] cooperation", according to official releases, were a major topic of discussion during the closed-door talks between MBZ and Prabowo, the latter being slated to take on Indonesia's top office in October.

"I hope that the relationship between Indonesia and the UAE will continue to develop, in line with the countries' ambition to strengthen cooperation in various fields, including defence," Prabowo said after the talks.

While details of the discussions remain undisclosed, Prabowo in his capacity as Indonesian defence minister has in recent years boosted security cooperation with the Gulf nation. Prabowo revealed last year that his team was negotiating with the UAE for the procurement of several used Dassault Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets.

In 2022, Prabowo also signed the Indonesia-UAE bilateral memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation, which outlined several protocols for collaboration including industrial planning strategies, joint research and development programs, defence technology licenses and human resource development.

As the UAE has recently industrialized its defence sector, Prabowo said at the time that synergy between both countries was "very important for their future industrial development".

In the past five years, Prabowo has undertaken a spending spree to modernize Indonesia's aging primary weapons systems (Alutsista) by purchasing dozens of items of military equipment and vehicles from a number of countries including Qatar, which will also be receiving a Prabowo visit this week.

Maintaining ties

With Prabowo's trip to the UAE marking his first foreign trip since the confirmation of his victory, the president-elect also paid particular attention to the strengthening of Jakarta-Abu Dhabi relations, following decade-long intensified ties kick-started by the outgoing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

In the meeting at Al Shati Palace on Tuesday, the president-elect officially introduced his number two, Gibran Rakabuming Raka who is also Jokowi's first son, to MBZ, who responded by embracing the Surakarta, Central Java, mayor, he also extended his best wishes to the pair as they prepared to take office next October.

This was not actually the first time MBZ and Gibran had met. They officially met during the inauguration of the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Surakarta, which was built as a gift by the UAE President to Jokowi.

Last year, the UAE president granted another US$15million for the development of Surakarta's public infrastructure, and Gibran was also there to discuss the development's progress.

The UAE has intensified its efforts to engage with Indonesia in recent years; it has become a major investor in the archipelago by being actively involved in various sectors including energy, strategic infrastructure projects and agricultural amenities.

MBZ said in an official statement that the country would continue building a strategic bond with Indonesia, especially in the avenues of development and the economy.

In a symbolic gesture to reaffirm Abu Dhabi's commitment to maintaining amicable ties with Indonesia, the president bestowed on Prabowo the Zayed Medal honor, which is the highest civil decoration in the UAE.

"The honor was given to [Prabowo] for his sincere efforts and his role in strengthening cooperative relations between the UAE and Indonesia," wrote the UAE's state-owned news agency, Wakalat Anba'a al Emarat.

Source: https://asianews.network/prabowo-strengthens-defence-collaboration-with-uae-president