Bridging Gaps

KAMLESH PRAKASH, FIJI AMBASSADOR – EMBASSY OF FIJI IN UAE

In this issue we bring you thoughts from Mr. Kamlesh Prakash, Fiji Ambassador currently based in the UAE since presenting his credentials in 2016. He plays a crucial role in Building and strengthening Fiji’s diplomatic relations with the UAE and other countries of accreditation in the Middle East.

He is also the Non-resident Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman, State of Kuwait, Qatar, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as well as the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the IRENA.

 Kamlesh studied at Labasa College and University of the South Pacific where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with double majors in Economics and Politics, and went to Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi to pursue his Master of Arts in Economics on a Commonwealth Government Scholarship. He was fortunate to undertake a range of professional and management development courses from Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan.

Some of his key roles as Ambassador in Abu Dhabi include the following:

We ask Mr. Kamlesh about his career in Diplomacy and his current role in the UAE.

  1. Tell us about your current role? In the present times, and for greater effectiveness, we have to do more with less and so these cross-accreditations keep us pretty busy as our footprint in the middle east grows and as greater numbers of our diaspora undertake numerous engagements and work in the MENA region. Sometimes the consular responsibilities can get pretty daunting as we deal with myriads of responsibilities and having to satisfy many stakeholders. Getting the attention of the different capitals in the region and making meaningful engagements often at short notices is often fraught with its own challenges and rewards I must add.
  1. What would you say are some of the challenges of working in the Foreign Service? It is essentially like working with any arm of government, and you need to follow proper channels of communication and protocol and get the attention of your superiors. As the Head of Mission, I represent the country and it is important that you and your country is recognized and given the attention that we all crave for. Often, coming from small island countries thousands of miles away and not being too significant politically or economically means we have to put in the extra effort to be recognized and to be the queue! Another point I would add is that the diplomats work of necessity entails meetings and networking and building relationships. In the present pandemic environments, it is not possible to have this luxury but instead rely on the virtual space. This often times is not the ideal and effective.
  1. What kind of advice would you give to students who wish to pursue a career in the Foreign Service or have an interest in international affairs? I strongly encourage all students to pursue their interest in diplomacy and undertake at least a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, follow national, regional and global affairs and develop a passion in foreign affairs and actively connect and look for opportunities to join foreign service in your own contexts. A Masters degree in this area will certainly help sharpen your skills and understanding as a diplomat. Foreign service is not the preserve of only the chosen ones, you all can be part of this service, it is just showing your interest and passion that counts.
  1. How do you see the development of UAE? The UAE is an incredible story of a nation rising from its tribal past, constrained by an inhospitable desert environment, having overcome all challenges and having developed rapidly into a modern state within a span of 40-50 years. This is unimaginable in the history of mankind elsewhere. The leaders have been both visionary and exemplary.
  1. Can you share your views about the relationship of Fiji with UAE? UAE and Fiji established formal diplomatic relations on 18 March 2010 and Hon. Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama opened our Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2012. This is our first mission in the GCC and North Africa region signifying the importance Fiji places on the relationship with UAE and to the MENA where our peacekeepers have been serving over the past 40 years.

UAE today enjoys a global standing and respect and enjoys great influence and comradery among the community of nations and above all has abundant disposable income and sizeable sovereign wealth funds for investment. We recognize that UAE is a strategic hub and main gateway to the MENA and Europe.

Fiji is also a hub and gateway to the Pacific and offers numerous attractive investment opportunities in a number of sectors like health, agriculture, tourism, real estate, renewable energy, mining, defense and infrastructure development.

Our natural, pristine environment is a magnet for tourism all over the world and Emiratis and all visitors from the Middle East adore this. Likewise, our lands have rich volcanic soils so anything can be grown in abundance organically, without the chemical fertilizers and all fruits and vegetables are therefor so tasty and remain fresh for long durations without use of any preservatives. There is a symbiosis and natural attraction for long term relationship in many areas with the UAE to strengthen our trade and economic ties with Fiji. We are among the few countries in the Pacific that has a sustained and unprecedented economic growth over the past decade, and we just celebrated our 50th anniversary of independence and the opportunities going forward are immense, and I am confident these will be unleashed with Fiji’s participation in the EXPO in Dubai next year.

Today, we have very friendly relations with the UAE and with two visits by our Honorable Prime Minister and meetings with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces the relations have become more cordial and we are very keen on enhancing ties with the UAE and taking it to the highest level.

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