Today I announce the appointment of Mr Arthur Spyrou as Australia's next Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bilateral relations between Australia and the UAE are multi-faceted and growing rapidly, underpinned by extensive trade relations.  The UAE is Australia’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and was our tenth largest source of foreign direct investment in 2014, with investments valued at nearly $15 billion.  Two-way goods and services trade totalled $8.64 billion in 2014, with Australian exports to the UAE growing 15.6 per cent to $3.66 billion.

Expanding commercial links with the region is a key priority.  Australia looks forward to the early resumption of Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

People-to-people links have expanded rapidly on the back of the strong growth of direct air links.  An estimated 22,000 Australians live and work in the UAE.

The Governor-General, the former Prime Minister, Trade and Investment Minister Robb and I have all made visits to the UAE this year.  I was also pleased to welcome UAE Foreign Minister, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Australia.

Australia and the UAE are partners in the anti-Da’esh Coalition.

Mr Spyrou is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  He has served overseas previously as Counsellor in the Australian High Commission in Malaysia and had an earlier posting in France.  In Canberra he has been Director of sections responsible for Management, Conduct and Corporate Strategy, bilateral relations with Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos and also for Australia’s engagement with the United Nations and Commonwealth.

Mr Spyrou holds a Master of Arts in Foreign Affairs and Trade from Monash University and Bachelor degrees in Arts (Hons) and Law from Sydney University and Utrecht University.

Mr Spyrou is expected to take up his position in January 2016.  I thank outgoing Ambassador Mr Pablo Kang for his contribution to advancing Australia’s interests in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar since 2012.

The Australian Embassy in the UAE is currently accredited to Qatar.  I was pleased to announce as part of the 2015 Budget that Australia will open an embassy in Qatar in 2016, to further strengthen the bilateral relationship.

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