JAKARTA: Indonesia on Monday named one of its strategic highways after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
The move was in response to the UAE in October renaming a street in the Emirati capital after President Joko Widodo.
The Indonesian road given the crown prince’s moniker connects the capital Jakarta to key industrial zones in the West Java province.
“The president instructed the Minister of Public Works and Housing Basuki Hadimuljono and I to officiate the renaming of this 36-kilometer elevated toll road, which is the longest in Indonesia,” said State Secretary Pratikno during the road-naming ceremony attended by UAE Ambassador to Indonesia Abdullah Salem Obaid Al-Dhaheri.
Hedy Rahadian, the ministry’s director general for roadworks, said the renaming of the toll road Jalan Layang MBZ Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed followed an official decree issued on April 8.
Widodo inaugurated the elevated route in December 2019, more than two years after its construction began in July 2017.
The road passes through the capital’s satellite cities of Bekasi and Cikarang in neighboring West Java province, where residential areas and industrial zones flourish.
The elevated highway, which cost state-owned toll road operator Jasa Marga 16 trillion rupiahs ($1.1 billion) to construct, is reserved for private vehicles traveling long distance, with nearly 200,000 cars using the road every day.
It was constructed over the existing Jakarta to Cikampek toll road, which is always congested with container trucks, inter-city buses, and private vehicles, making it one of Indonesia’s busiest roads and an economic lifeline.
Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE Husin Bagis told Arab News that naming the toll road after the crown prince signified increasingly strong ties between the two nations.
“It is in honor of the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in bringing closer relations between the two countries and further indicating the strong brotherhood between Indonesia and the UAE,” the envoy said.
Al-Dhaheri said that his country extended its “highest gratitude and appreciation for naming this very strategic and vital street after the name of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.”
“I can tell you we are very much proud and happy to get this kind of token of appreciation from Indonesia.”
Indonesia and the UAE have been naming landmarks in their respective countries following the signing of a $22.9 billion investment deal that Widodo and his entourage secured during a visit to Abu Dhabi in January last year which came after the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.
Indonesian officials have described the agreement as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history.
In July, Indonesia and the UAE also agreed to set up a temporary travel corridor – the first for both countries during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic – to facilitate business and diplomatic trips between them.
The UAE renamed Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, President Joko Widodo Street on Oct. 20 last year to coincide with the first anniversary of the president’s inauguration for a second term in office.
“In addition, the establishment of President Joko Widodo Mosque in Abu Dhabi is also underway,” Bagis added.
Al-Dhaheri noted that relations between the two countries had reached new heights, moving away from traditional sectors of cooperation in areas such as oil and gas into other sectors including education, health, agriculture, investment, and retail.
Indonesia and the UAE have signed more agreements for the emirates to invest and develop several major infrastructure projects in Indonesia, including a $500 million tourism resort in its western Aceh province and the opening of the first LuLu supermarket in Indonesia on the western outskirts of Jakarta.
The agreements were signed during a visit to Indonesia in March by the UAE’s energy and infrastructure minister, Suhail Al-Mazroui, and his delegation – the first high-level government official from the UAE to visit Indonesia since the signing of a bilateral safe travel corridor deal.
Al-Mazroui’s week-long trip was capped with a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a replica of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Solo in Central Java province, the Indonesian president’s hometown, where his eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, is mayor.
Also in March, the UAE announced its commitment to invest $10 billion in Indonesia’s sovereign wealth fund, making the emirates the “largest major investor” in the initiative, which the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority helped establish and serves as an adviser.
In a yet-to-be approved proposal for a mangrove rehabilitation agreement between the two countries, Indonesia has also nominated a 10,000-hectare integrated mangrove rehabilitation project in either East Kalimantan or Bangka Belitung provinces as the Khalifa bin Zayed Mangrove Park.