bilateral relations between South Africa and the UAE
were initiated in 1992 when the South African Department
of Trade and Industry and the South African Foreign
Trade Organisation organized a successful exhibition
of SA products in Dubai. This exhibition took place
in October 1992 and has laid the foundation for what
soon became a prosperous business relationship.
Formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and
the UAE were established soon after the Minister of
Foreign Affairs of the UAE, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed
al Nahyan, visit to South Africa in 1994 to attend the
inauguration of Mr. Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s
first democratically-elected President.
The SA Embassy in the Abu Dhabi was opened on 17 January
1995. During the same year the UAE Embassy was opened
in Pretoria. A South African Consulate was soon afterwards
established in Dubai. The Consulate was upgraded to
a Consulate General in December 2005 with the arrival
of the first Consul General, Ms. Agnes Nyamande-Pitso.
High level visits:
SA and the UAE have exchanged several high-level and
ministerial visits. Former SA President Nelson Mandela
attended the summit meeting of the Gulf Co-operation
Council in Abu Dhabi in November 1998 and addressed
the Emirates International Forum in Dubai in February
2000. The current President of SA Mr. Thabo Mbeki visited
the UAE in March 2000. The South African Ministers of
Foreign Affairs, Trade & Industry and Defence and
the Deputy Minister of Communications have visited the
UAE for discussions that further cemented bilateral
In an attempt to further explore and expand bilateral
economic relations, a range of Provincial visits from
South Africa, often led by Premiers, have taken place,
particularly since November 2006. In that month, Premier
Rasool led a government and business delegation from
the Western Cape to the UAE. Also in November 2006,
Premier Marshoff of the Free State and Premier Shilowa
of Gauteng led separate government delegations to the
UAE. These visits enabled the visitng delegations to
learn more about the UAE and introduce a range of trade
and investment opportunities in their provinces and
the rest of the country.
In July 2007, Premier Peters of the Northern Cape visited
the UAE with a strong government and business delegation.
This successful visit was followed by two more equally
successful provincial visits in November. Premier Moloto
from Limpopo, accompanied by a government and business
delegation, explored trade and investment opportunities.
Premier Balindlela from the Eastern Cape, accompanied
by a strong government delegation, investigated infrastructure
development and investment opportunities. All of these
visits have generated positive spin-offs with follow-up
South African presence in the UAE:
There is a growing community of South African
nationals in the UAE, stimulated, in part, by a growing
demand for South African labour force. The major sectors
where the requirement is increasing are: construction,
hospitality, financial, medical, retail management and
education. Local employers have come to know and appreciate
the quality and professionalism of SA expatriates.
More than 100 South African companies have established
themselves in the UAE. The number continues to grow.
These range from well-known restaurant groups such as
Nando’s, Butcher Shop, Meat Co, Mug & Bean
and Debonairs Pizza, to companies in the construction
and engineering, banking, energy, travel and hospitality,
trading, and HR consultancy sectors.
The Mission is determined to promote public awareness
of the richness, variety and potential of South African
trade, investment and tourism opportunities through
partnerships with the media in the UAE. Newspaper advertisements
and supplements on South Africa, features on tourism,
education and other sectors, as well as radio and TV
interviews and documentaries on South Africa, are frequently
utilised for this purpose.
The Mission furthermore uses international exhibitions
such as Gulf Education and Training (GETEX) and Arabian
Travel Market (ATM) to provide a national pavilion build-up
for participating South African institutions or companies.
These and other pavilions are designed and branded to
promote a particular South African awareness, including
the country’s hosting of the 2010 Soccer World