The UAE has apparently closed their embassy in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, as a result of falling trade levels. The closure comes at a time when Kenya’s GDP is growing strongly and when the country is seeing significant growth in the Islamic finance sector. As previously reported, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie, was recently quoted when speaking of Foreign Direct Investment, saying, “[Gulf investors] will be very essential,” she said. “Obviously they have the financial capacity. Second, we have a history with the Middle East, [due to] our link with Oman and our history with her. Third, Kenya is only four hours away. Dubai is a transport hub and we’re also positioning Nairobi as a transport hub, so it’s very easy to use Nairobi or Kenya as a gateway to these other countries.”
One online source then posted an update to the story in video form, where a Kenyan official denies the closure. The situation remains confused at the time of writing. Amina Mohamed of Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated unequivocally that, “The embassy of the United Arab Emirates has not been closed”. The latest statement appears to directly contradict a statement made by Beldina Nyabochoa, an office administrator of Middle East division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when she said, “They informed us of the closure about a month ago,” however, Nyabochoa did not provide any further details.
The move comes as, according to reports, the UAE’s exports to Kenya have fallen from $1.92 billion in 2011 to $0.99 billion as of last year. In addition, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics has stated that the closure of Kenya’s sole crude oil refinery and the subsequent slowing in oil sales has played a major part in the slowdown in trade. Kenya has, according to reports, been purchasing oil from a wide range of markets, whereas the UAE had previously represented their main partner. However, it must be noted that the reports make no mention of the finance sector, nor of investment levels within Kenya, both of which appear to be growing rapidly.