Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's recent state visits to Syria and Algeria have boosted bilateral ties, especially commercial, tourism and investment relations with the two Arab states.

"The UAE has adopted a wise foreign policy, based on entrenching friendly relations with the Arab countries," said Mohammad Khalifa Al Murar, Information Adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, during a press briefing on Monday.

Shaikh Khalifa's meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad discussed the significant investment projects that UAE companies have been implementing in Syria; including $100 million (about Dh367.3 million) invested in building a hospital.

"The UAE is now first in investment and business in Syria and we hope that these ties strengthen with time," said Director General of Syrian Arab News Agency, Dr Adnan Mahmoud.

He said the next Arab summit meeting will take place in Damascus by March 2008. The summit aims to discuss serving worldwide Arab interests by encouraging unification and putting an end to obstacles in the Arab world.

"I would like to add that economic growth in Syria despite all the stressful times the Arab world has been through lately, reached up to 5.1 per cent this year. The UAE's investment in Syria is so far the largest," said Rustum Al Zou'bi, Syrian Ambassador to the UAE.

According to Adel Malek Maoudj, Acting Charge d'Affaires at the Algerian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Shaikh Khalifa's visit to Algeria marked a solid, strategic partnership between Algeria and the UAE.

The UAE has invested $40 billion (about Dh147 billion) in five big projects in Algeria; some of which include $20 billion (about Dh73.4 billion) for Emaar and $5 billion (about Dh18.3 billion) for Dubal.