The Indonesia’s desire to strengthen its friendship and brotherly relations with the United Arab Emirates was reflected in the immediate recognition of the country on its independence in 1971.
Following the opening of diplomatic relations in 1976, former President Suharto visited the UAE in October 1977. The Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi was established a year later as a corner stone of the relationship between the two countries. In March 1988 the Former Vice President Prof. B.J. Habibi also visited the United Arab Emirates.
The visit of the late President of the UAE Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AlNahyan to Indonesia in May 1990 followed by establishment of the UAE Embassy in Jakarta in 10 June 1991 further strengthened the relationship between the two brotherly nations.
Economics, trade and cooperation between the UAE and Indonesia:
Indonesia sees the UAE as one of the main centers of business in the world. Indonesia’s exports to the UAE have become the biggest in the Middle East. Realizing this fact, the Indonesian Government established trade and investment representative office to promote its products in the United Arab Emirates and in the entire Middle East region.
Economic relations between the two friendly countries are developing progressively as follows:
- Trade between Indonesia and the UAE stood at more than US$2.18 billion in 2008, increased by %43 compared to 2007. During January 2010 the bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$ 154 million compared to US$ 120 million in the same period of 2009.
- Indonesia's primary exports to the UAE consist of textiles, garments, plywood, furniture, electronics and paper. While Indonesia imports from UAE are, among others, lubricant oil, chemical products, aluminum ore, iron scrap and corn floor.
- Major UAE investments in Indonesia include:
- The $1.5 billion oil rig project in offshore Batam Island with Dubai Drydocks and Fabtech International Inc.
- The $1.7 billion real estate project in Jakarta (Rasuna Episentrum) with Limitless Duba.
- A logistics infrastructure project with RAK Minerals in Sumatra.
- Etisalat’s purchase of $438 million worth of shares of Indonesian telecom provider Excelcom.
- Several companies from the United Arab Emirates have been present in Indonesia for many years. The latest one is property giant company Emmar Properties who signed a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Indonesia's Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (PPA) to develop a $2 billion resort project in Lombok.
- Major Indonesian investments in UAE include:
- A US$ 30-50 million construction project in Abu Dhabi by PT. Abdi Mulia Berakah Abu Dhabi.
- The construction of office buildings by PT. Waskita Karya and BUMN RI worth US$ 900 million.
- On the investment side, there has been improvement since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's 2006 visit to the UAE and the signing of an agreement to boost economic ties and establish joint ventures by the UAE Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Indonesia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) the same year.
- The UAE presently employs some 100,000 Indonesian workers as March 2010.
Trade between the UAE and Indonesia in a Glance
Bilateral agreements between UAE and Indonesia:
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the formation of the UAE-Indonesian joint commission for bilateral cooperation, which was singed in 18 October 2010.
- Agreement on visa waiver for holders of diplomatic, special and service passports, which was singed in 18 October 2010.
- MoU between Ras Al Khimah Authority and the Government of South Sumatera Province on the development of industrial area in Tanjung Api Api Port, signed in 2008.
- MoU on the protection of Indonesian manpower in UAE, singed in 16 December 2007.
Agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
- MoU on Air Transportation, signed in 2006.
- MoU to enhance cooperation between the two countries official news agencies WAM and Antara.
- MoU strengthen business cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the UAE and R.I., signed in 2006.
- An agreement on the cooperation in the field of Post and Communication between the two countries.
- MoU on Sister City between Al Fujairah and Central Java Province, signed 2005.
Milestone official visits between the two countries:
- The visit of the late President of the UAE Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AlNahyan to Indonesia in May 1990 was considered as a landmark for the two friendly countries enabled them to take wide strides to strengthen their brotherly relation.
- The state visit of H.E Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to the UAE in May 2006 was a very important event in the history of two countries relations where he praised ties with UAE and the outcome of his historical talks with President of the UAE H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and local officials.
- The official visit of UAE Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to Indonesia from 18 to 19 October 2010.
Humanitarian Assistances and Cooperation:
- The UAE humanitarian efforts in extending supports and assistance to the people of Indonesia during the time of need and natural disaster like the tsunami in Aceh, quakes in Jogjakarta and for orphans and poor people, were highly appreciated by the peoples and the Government of Indonesia whereas the Indonesian President H.E. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that the UAE, under the leadership of Shaikh Khalifa, was among the first to reach out to the Indonesian people during the time of the disaster that struck the country to alleviate the sufferings of the people. He cited some of the UAE’s landmark assistance to his country as including the Emirates Village, the Shaikh Zayed City in Aceh 700 housing units, which being built for those who lost their houses during the Tsunami.
- The Construction of 25 general medical clinics and 25 child and mother care clinics, in addition to the building of five orphanages and the renovation of 20 mosques in Indonesia, to be undertaken by the UAE through the UAE Red Crescent Society, RCS.
- The housing project cost total amount of US$2.3 million. Building Mosques, Mussallahs and Digging numbers of wells to supply some villages with clean drinking water in different parts of Indonesia.
- The construction of 50 houses, a school, a clinic and a mosque to assist the victims of the earthquake in the village of Padang Alai, West Sumatera.
- Organizing fast –breaking feasts for the poor and distributing alms and food parcels during Ramadan in addition to provide and cows for “Qurbans” during Idul Aldha occasions.