UAE set to sign major Serbia investment deals

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Serbia expects the UAE to sign investment deals worth hundreds of millions of euros, making the UAE one of its most important economic partners, government ministers have said.

Struggling with a double-dip recession, the Balkan nation is looking east for investors to make up for waning interest from crisis-hit Europe and the Middle Eastern cash will add to finance already coming from Russia and China.

The UAE will sign a deal next week concerning Serbia's weapons industry worth some 100 million euros ($132m), Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told the Beta news agency.

Speaking after a three-day visit by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Vucic said two other defence contracts would follow by the end of the month. He gave no further details.

"Serbia and the United Arab Emirates have agreed deals and investments that are so far the best we have ever achieved in bilateral relations with another country," Beta quoted Vucic as saying.

He said the UAE was also interested in the construction of an "exclusive building" on the location of the former army headquarters in downtown Belgrade, a mess of mangled concrete and metal since it was bombed by NATO in 1999 during the Kosovo war.

Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic told the Serbian daily Blic that he would sign a deal on Sunday with Abu Dhabi's Al Dahra agricultural company on a joint investment in eight Serbian farm cooperatives worth some 100 million euros.

He also said the UAE might invest in Serbia's JAT Tehnika aircraft maintenance company.

Serbia has asked China for an 850 million euro loan to build two new highways and Russia said on Friday it was considering a request for a $1bn loan to help stabilise the Serbian budget.

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