Lenin Bandres Herrera Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A few years ago, only two Latin American countries had diplomatic missions in the UAE but that number is steadily growing, Venezuelan Ambassador to the UAE told Gulf News.

Only Argentina and Brazil had embassies in Abu Dhabi a few years ago, but at least six more Latin American countries opened their diplomatic missions in the UAE recently, Lenin Bandres Herrera said in an interview.

Dominican Republic, Chile and Venezuela opened embassies in Abu Dhabi, and Mexico, Panama and Uruguay opened consulates in Dubai in recent years. There are reports that more Latin American countries are planning to open diplomatic missions in the UAE.

He explained the new trend as growing importance of the UAE in political, economic and trade segments in international and regional arenas.

The UAE's role in international issues like climate change is notable and hosting International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has strengthened that role, Herrera said.

As an oil producing country with strong economy, it is a prominent trading partner of many countries, he pointed out. Its role in regional matters like GCC, Palestine and Iraq are also very important, the diplomat said.

Moreover, for Latin American countries, geographically the UAE acts as a gateway to the Middle East , North Africa and Asia, the Ambassador explained.

Venezuela opened its embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2007 with a charge d'affaires. An ambassador was appointed in 2009.

With the recent visit of Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Foreign Minister, to Venezuela bilateral relations have reached a new height, Herrera said.

Both countries have signed two agreements, he said. The first one is on political consultations and the second one is on avoidance of double taxation, the ambassador said.

The UAE has invited President Hugo Chavez to visit the country and Venezuela is working it out, he said.

The cultural cooperation is also improving, he said.

Residents: Venezuela community

About 650 Venezuelans are living in the UAE, almost equally distributed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Most of them are working as engineers and consultants in the oil and gas industry. Others work as pilots and stewards in aviation sector. Women often participate in the activities of an association of Latin American women.

UAE: High profile

- International player in climate change, especially in Irena(International Renewable Energy Agency)

- Regional player in GCC, Palestine and Iraq matters.

- Oil-producing ,strong economy and a trade hub

-  Acts as a gateway to Middle East, North Africa and Asia.