A sample of the Ghaf tree.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has gifted African countries drought-tolerant trees to support environmental conservation as it marks 51 years of cooperation with the continent.

Well known as the Ghaf trees, they remain green even in harsh desert environments.

It is essential for the survival of animal and plant species alike.  The Ghaf is the national tree of the UAE and it is a historic and cultural symbol of stability and peace in the Emirates’ desert environment.

In a statement, the UAE said the move to gift the most valued trees symbolises 51 years of distinguished and prosperous relations based on the principles of brotherhood, friendship, mutual respect, and common interests with countries in Africa.

The trees which represents an important source of life, unity, and brotherhood, making it important and famous as a symbol of steadfastness, prosperity and development will be distributed in UAE partner countries across the continent.

The gift is also in line with 51 years of Emirati-African relations that include friendship, sports, trade, and culture. UAE-Africa trade was valued above $50 billion (Sh6 trillion) in 2019 and has continued to surge.  

"In fact, planting these trees represents an investment for the UAE and its partners in a growing and prospering future generation, reflecting the UAE's commitment to the African continent," the UAE said in a statement as a number of African countries celebrated the Emirati initiative, stressing its importance in strengthening the UAE's relations with Africa. 

The UAE is one of the leading exporters of goods to several African countries, and also among the top ten importers of goods and commodities for 10 African countries.

"We will continue to strengthen ties toward strategic relationships with Africa in business, sports, and environmental conservation," UAE said in a statement.

The statemen said the initiative comes within the framework of joint efforts towards protecting natural assets and ensuring their use in the coming years.

It stated that planting and preserving trees in all parts of the world is a step toward sustainability and environmental responsibility. 

UAE said it is working in tandem with other countries to address climate change and the global challenge to make the world beautiful, protect human life, and protect other species.

"It is worth noting that the UAE enjoys strong and fruitful ties with Africa because of its numerous economic agreements that would enhance partnership and cooperation for the benefit of the African people," read part of the statement.

Africa is fast emerging as one of the most important markets for the UAE which has been is working diligently to penetrate newer markets within the continent.

UAE’s overall trade with six non-Arab African countries of Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa and Tanzania hit over $8 billion (Sh982 billion)  in 2020 and is poised to continue growing as it wins new trading partners on the continent.

The Middle East nation for instance exported goods worth Sh178.5 billion to Kenya in 2021, marking a 93 percent jump from Sh92.3 billion in 2020 when Covid-19 disrupted trade. Kenya in 2021 exported goods worth Sh34.56 billion to UAE.