Mehdi Jomaa in Dubai: UAE stands by Tunisia in crucial phase
ABU DHABI - Tunisian premier Mehdi Jomaa arrived in the United Arab Emirates Saturday to start a tour of five oil-rich Gulf monarchies, where he hopes to boost ties and attract investors.
Jomaa heads a government of independents formed in January after the ruling Islamist-dominated coalition left power, and is tasked with turning around Tunisia's faltering economy.
The North African nation fell into recession after the 2011 uprising that unseated long-time strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Shortly after arriving in Abu Dhabi, Jomaa travelled to Dubai, where he met Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE.
They discussed "the efforts of the Tunisian government to combat extremism," the official news agency WAM reported.
Sheikh Mohammad, who is also Dubai's ruler, told Jomaa the UAE "stands by the side of its brotherly Tunisian people to help it out of the tunnel of instability".
Tunisia has seen a rise in jihadist violence since 2011, and in 2013 two opposition politicians were killed in attacks attributed to political extremists.
After visiting the UAE, Jomaa is due to visit Saudi Arabia, where Ben Ali and his wife have lived in exile since 2011, before heading to Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.