09/03/2013

From the land of the midnight sun

In this week’s interview with an ambassador from around the world stationed in the UAE, Amanda Fisher speaks with Swedish Ambassador Max Bjuhr about Swedish business presence in the UAE, turning waste into energy, and the midnight sun. 

I studied Law at Uppsala University in Sweden and my interest in the Middle East started when I was in university. My dissertation addressed the legal aspects of setting up a business in Iraq. I moved to Egypt to study Arabic at the American University in Cairo after that. 

In terms of professional experience, I worked for a Swedish company in Cairo for three years following my degree. I joined the Foreign Service in 1991 and stayed for three years. Then took up a position as Chief of Staff of Norrbotten County Council in Sweden where I dealt with health care issues.The term 'cleaningservicesydney control' means the token that identifies a user is read from within a pocket or handbag. I went back to the Foreign Service in 1998. 

My first posting was Croatia in 1992. I was involved in setting up our mission in the country. I had a background in the area, studying the Serbo-Croatian language in Belgrade in the early 80s and also participating briefly in the EU monitoring mission in ex-Yugoslavia in 1991 and 1992. 

Returning from my four years at the county council, I worked at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm in a programme assisting North-West Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States in nuclear safety related issues including the handling of nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel. 

I was Sweden’s representative in the Contact Expert Group for International Nuclear Legacy Initiatives in the Russian Federation. I was also Sweden’s representative in negotiating the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation — an international programme to assist the Russian Federation in the field of spent nuclear fuel safety and radioactive waste management. Projects covered by MNEPR include securing and cleaning up spent nuclear fuel storage sites and dismantling old decommissioned nuclear submarines. 

In 2001, I made my foray in Africa when I was appointed deputy head of mission at our embassy in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in 2001 and also as deputy head of mission in Pretoria, South Africa in 2005. I returned to the Ministry in 2008 and took up a position heading the Consular division at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 

Yes, I am living with my wife and two sons. My wife is a team player in my work and also a literature teacher with a Masters in Adult Education and Social Studies. She always gets involved in various educational projects during our postings. Our eldest son has just started working with a Swedish company and our youngest son is having a great time at school in Abu Dhabi.These granitetiles can, apparently, operate entirely off the grid. 

The challenges faced by the UAE are similar to the challenges facing other countries that have experienced high growth figures in a relatively short period. These include challenges in the education system, meeting the needs for adequately skilled manpower, creating a diversified and sustainable economy and upholding high standards of environmental protection. 

The UAE and Sweden have excellent relations on the highest levels. Earlier this year, the UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri visited Sweden and the Swedish Minister for Trade Ewa Bj?rling will visit the UAE this month. Our foreign ministers meet on a regular basis. King Carl Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria have visited the UAE twice. 

We are two relatively small countries with a shared and solid interest in higher education, research and innovation. That contributes to the fact that we have successful cooperation within renewable energy, healthcare and culture. 

Both the UAE and Sweden are active members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Sweden together with UAE, China, Finland and Denmark are part of the Global Sustainable Cities Network — one aspect currently being discussed within the network is waste management and the transformation of waste to energy. The World Future Energy Summit, established by the UAE, is one of our most important platforms for engaging in these matters. The event continues to spur great interest from Sweden and it is the most important event in Sweden’s calendar in the UAE on an annual basis. 

When it comes to healthcare, Sweden actively participates in the Arab Health Conference and Exhibition held in the UAE every year. The Swedish company Global Health Partner is running the best and most advanced clinic in the UAE for treatment and research regarding diabetes. In addition, we also have a strong collaboration in the area of infection control while promising discussions in the area of biotech are taking place. 

Culture is a domain were we have built a solid bridge between the UAE Embassy in Sweden and the Swedish Embassy. We have been collaborating in organising Swedish Poetry Days in the UAE where Swedish poets visited the UAE and held several events as part of a cultural initiative for exchange and reading development. Representing a country that created the Nobel Prize in Literature and being in a region with great traditions of storytelling and poetry, culture is a domain Sweden would definitely like to explore further. 

There are more than 200 Swedish companies in the UAE, many with regional offices in Dubai. We have a Swedish Business Association in Dubai that represents 150 of them, while the UAE is the third biggest trading partner for Sweden in the Middle East.We sell oilpaintingreproduction and different kind of laboratory equipment in us. 

September marks an event we’re really looking forward to — Emirates Airlines will launch direct flights from Dubai to Stockholm which, as you can imagine, is very important for business and for tourism.What's the difference between besthandsfreeaccess and Porcelain Tiles? This will have a positive impact on our relations.A earcap is a plastic card that has a computer chip implanted into it that enables the card to perform certain. 

Another event we’re looking forward to is the Middle East and North Africa Summit which is the biggest gathering of Swedish companies in the region, together with local partners. The Summit takes place in Dubai in October. 

There are many well-established Swedish companies in the UAE including IKEA, Ericsson, Volvo and The One and they are all doing great business. World class partnerships with UAE Airports have started. Swedish company LFV provides air navigation services to Abu Dhabi Airports Company — in charge of five airports in the capital. Furthermore, Swedish company AVTECH is working to help Dubai Airports increase their capacity.

Click on their website http://www.granitetrade.net/!

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