H. E. Ramūnas Davidonis, Ambassador of Lithuania to the UAE

How have bilateral ties and trade prospered between Lithuania and the UAE?

This year, on October 16th Lithuania and the UAE celebrate the 31st anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations. Our ties gained a fresh acceleration after establishing the Embassy of Lithuania in Abu Dhabi in 2020; trends in trade and other fields of cooperation have grown positively each year since then. Lithuania and the UAE share a vision for a prosperous future, strive for economic diversification and have ambition for creating and investing in new-generation technology, education, and people. In general, there is a mutual effort to accelerate the economic cooperation between Lithuania and the UAE, and the announcement of the Lithuania-UAE Business Council in May 2023 is one of the significant steps to ensure future results.

What have been the high points over the last year?

During the last few years, the bilateral trade and economic ties between Lithuania and the UAE have seen stable growth, and there is much room for a significant increase.

In 2022, bilateral trade between Lithuania and the UAE grew by 124 per cent, totalling 177 million euros, which makes the UAE our No 1 market in the Gulf. Exports from Lithuania amounted to 163 million euros, with an annual growth of 136 per cent. Meanwhile, imports of Emirati origin to Lithuania increased by 39 per cent. Over the last few years, bilateral trade scope has been dominated mainly by machinery, mechanical appliances and electronics, furniture, transport, minerals, optics, dairy and other food products. For Lithuania and the UAE, core sectors for future growth are scientific cooperation, research and development of new technologies and innovation, space technologies, biotechnology and medical technology, not to forget FinTech and ICT.

Lithuania has internationally acknowledged expertise in these sectors and a proven track record of exporting the technology across Europe, United States and Asia.

At the same time, we see opportunities for significantly expanding already established trade in food & beverage, agriculture, construction and architecture, and transport. Lithuania’s businesses are long-time participants of the largest trade exhibitions in the UAE, such as Gulfood and Gulfood Manufacturing, Arab Health, and GITEX, with major B2B partnerships growing with each event. It is the best sign of mutual interest and understanding of what each country needs for its economy to prosper.

Please elaborate on the initiative to launch the UAE-Lithuania Business Council.

We welcome the new framework for direct connection for businesses from Lithuania and the UAE, which the Business Council will become. The number of companies interested in joining the Business Council from both countries shows that this was the long-awaited link for B2B ties for a successful move forward. The main goal of the Lithuania-UAE Business Council will be to ensure direct knowledge and expertise sharing between businesspeople in both countries, offering assistance and support to understand both markets, find partnerships and grow mutual investment.

Lithuania is a regional tourism hotspot — what are the steps being initiated to attract UAE citizens to visit Lithuania?

The highlight of this new tourist season is that starting from November 2 this year, there will be a bi-weekly direct flight Dubai-Vilnius, operated by AirBaltic. We hope this connection will increase tourism and business relations between Lithuania and the UAE.

It is also important to note that Emirati nationals do not need additional visas to travel to Lithuania, so we welcome everyone to use this opportunity to explore our wonderful country at its best, especially during the holiday season. Another reason to consider jumping on the first flight is that Lithuania‘s capital, Vilnius, celebrates its historical 700th anniversary this year, with incredible events, exhibitions, concerts, and art happenings throughout the year. Besides, well-preserved Lithuanian nature offers the highest quality health tourism services for aesthetics, beauty and wellness. Natural mineral waters, healing mud, local herbs and amber are some of the local natural remedies widely used by health professionals.

As you can see, everyone can find something new to experience in Lithuania, be it urban lifestyle and concerts or be it health or exploring the nature and history.

What are the new-age sectors that will see increasing collaboration between both nations?

Another factor uniting the UAE and Lithuania in their vision for the future – Lithuania has become a land for unicorns and start-ups to thrive and is the second-fastest growing start-up ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe, with a valuation of 9.5 billion euros.

Lithuania has also made strong entry into space tech, with more than 30 Lithuanian companies participating in various sections of space supply chains, and this number is expected to grow more than double in the next five years. Such companies as NanoAvionics are already connecting Lithuania and the UAE in technology share and joint commercial projects. With the UAE’s first successful mission to the International Space Station, which deserves separate praise, there is plenty of exploration to be done hand in hand with the technology Lithuanian researchers have to offer.

With the rapid growth of tech innovation, it is crucial to pay attention to the cybersecurity space. Lithuania, now ranked 2nd globally in electronic security according to the global Digital Quality of Life Index, offers EU-leading connectivity, internet speeds, and the highest-class cyber technology. With the tech world changing at a fast pace each day, it creates a new opportunity to explore between the UAE and Lithuania.

Historically, Lithuanians have been a nation of co-creators and partners, finding ways to connect to the world. The spirit of tolerance, unity and collaboration, which the UAE holds as some of the key pillars of its strategy and future, has been ingrained in Lithuania. We are proud of our links to the Islamic World through the 700-year-old Crimean Tatar community, which became integral to forming the Lithuanian state and maintaining their identity against the occupation and historical turbulences.

Our countries are united in their strategic ambition, and we look forward to working hand in hand to achieve the prosperity ensured by freedom and independence for both of our peoples.