Bilateral relations

Relations

Traditionally, relations between Finland and the United Arab Emirates have been good even though countries are relatively remote geographically and culturally. For a long time trade and economic cooperation have been a key element of the relationship. There is increasing mutual interest reflected for example in commercial cooperation, high-level visits and increased tourism.

Commercial-Economic Relations

United Arab Emirates is Finland's second biggest export country in the Middle East. The deal is clearly in surplus for Finland. About fifty Finnish companies have an office and a regional center in the United Arab Emirates and a number of Finnish companies operate through agents visiting the country from time to time.

Exports to the United Arab Emirates

In the middle of the last decade, Finland's exports to the United Arab Emirates were at best in the order of 1 billion euros (2003-2005). Since then, exports have steadily declined. This influenced by the decrease in mobile phone exports after production shifts from Finland to countries with cheaper production costs and economic cycles. Exports accounted for about half of Finland's total exports in recent years.

 

 

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Export (million €)

275

254

382

251

174,4

263

258

210,5

 

310

242,4

 

Finnish exports have traditionally covered mobile phones, telephone networks, cranes, elevators and other machinery and equipment. In 2018 the largest export products were paper and cardboard products, specialty machines of various industries, other electrical machinery and equipment, plastics, iron and steel, industrial machinery and equipment, power machines and engines, telephone, radio and TV equipment, and timber and cork.

Import to Finland from United Arab Emirates

Imports from the United Arab Emirates to Finland have been modest - about 10 million and mainly contained plastic and textile products. In 2018, the largest import products were mainly electronic, textile and food products. Finland does not buy oil or gas from the United Arab Emirates.

It is good to note that the statistics of the Customs Board do not contain all the activities of Finnish companies in the area.

Source: Customs Board - Foreign Trade Statistic

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Import (million €)

6,4

8,1

10,9

12,9

9,4

10,8

18,7

11,9

10

12,6

 

Source: Customs Board - Foreign Trade Statistic

Finns, Finnish

Approximately 1400 Finns live in the United Arab Emirates more or less permanently. Every year tens of thousands of Finnish tourists visit the country. In the United Arab Emirates, tens of thousands of tourists visit Finland every year. The number of tourists has increased in recent years.

There are Finnish schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that organize Finnish club activities for children:

Finnish School in Dubai (https://www.dubainsuomikoulu.fi/)

Finnish School in Abu Dhabi (http://www.abudhabinsuomikoulu.net/)

Agreements between Finland and the United Arab Emirates:

Agreement on Economic, Industrial and Technical Cooperation (1982)

Agreement between the Republic of Finland and the United Arab Emirates for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income (1996)

Agreement Between the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Government of Finland on the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments (1996)

Air services agreement (2013)

 

Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Finland and the Government of the United Arab Emirates for the exchange of information relating to tax matters (2016)

 

In addition, there are several other cooperation documents, which have been signed between the countries (Memorandum of Understanding).

Visits

Ministerial visits from Finland to the United Arab Emirates:

Foreign Trade Minister Jari Vilén in November 2002

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paula Lehtomäki in January 2007

Minister of the Environment Paula Lehtomäki in January 2009

Minister of Economic Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen in January 2010

Minister of Communications Suvi Lindén in May 2010

Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies in August 2010

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen in January 2011

Minister of Education Henna Virkkunen in February 2011

Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies in February 2011

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen / Minister for Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb in March 2013

Minister of Communications Krista Kiuru in March 2013

Prime Minister Susanna Huovinen in January 2015

Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn in October 2015

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka in November 2015

Minister of Education and Culture Sanni Grahn-Laasonen in October 2016

Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela in December 2016

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen in January 2017

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pirkko Mattila in January-February 2017

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pirkko Mattila in January-February 2018

 

President of the Republic Martti Ahtisaari in 1996

President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö in April 2015

 

Ministerial visits from the United Arab Emirates to Finland:

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahya in May 2009

Minister for Energy Mohamed bin Dhaen Hamli 2010

Minister of Education Humaid Mohammad Al Qutami in September 2011

Development Minister Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi in October 2013

Minister of Social Affairs Maryam Al Roumi in September 2014

Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri in February 2015

Minister for the Environment Rashid Ahmad bin Fahad in September 2015

Minister of State, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, May 2017

In addition, the number of visits between companies is quite high.

History

The United Arab Emirates was recognized by Finland in 1972, and since 1975 the countries have had bilateral diplomatic relations. The first Ambassador of Finland was Carolus Lassila, who was accredited to Abu Dhabi in 1975. Two years later, Kai Helenius became his successor. Both ambassadors took care of the mission from Jeddah.

Ambassador Pertti Ripatti was accredited to Abu Dhabi in Kuwait in 1982. After that, Esko Kunnamo served as Ambassador of Finland in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi in 1985–1989. Tero Lehtovaara became Ambassador of Finland in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi at the same time in 1989. Due to the Gulf War in 1990, Lehtovaara was forced to move to Helsinki from where he served as a traveling ambassador. Pertti Kaukonen was the last Ambassador of Finland to handle Abu Dhabi from Kuwait in 1992-1997.

Finland received its first representation in Abu Dhabi in 1980. In particular, the management of commercial matters required an active presence in Abu Dhabi. Harri Lahti started as Finland's first commercial advice and in 1984 Pekka Laitio became his successor. Rainer Wegelius on the other hand took up his duties in 1988. Matti Pullinen became the first ambassador to Abu Dhabi in 1997. He has been followed by Risto Rekola, Raimo Anttola, Matti Lassila, Ilkka-Pekka Similä and most recently by Riitta Swan.

In 1991, the mission was made an embassy, ​​where the Embassy received its first attorney at law Alexei Lahti. Caj Söderlund served as Attorney General since 1994 until Pullinen became an Ambassador. The commercial advisers worked at the Abu Dhabi Consulate with a secretary from one place. The United Arab Emirates handled Finland's relations with Stockholm until 2017 when the embassy was opened in Helsinki.

Today, the Embassy employs an ambassador, two Finnish officials sent by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and eight people from the country of employment. Part of the year a trainee is working at the Embassy as well. Due to staff growth, the embassy moved from Istiqlal Street in 1999 to its current location in Hamdan Street. In 2003, the Embassy's area of ​​activity expanded to include Qatar and Bahrain in addition to the United Arab Emirates. ​​​​​​​