Finnish group visit to DAFZ, first leg of push to Arabian peninsula

Published October 25th, 2009 - 06:13 GMT
A 20-strong business delegation from Finland has visited the Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZ) to learn about business opportunities at the Freezone to foreign investors.
The delegation made up of research funders, innovation fund officials, suppliers to the construction industry, architects, engineers and environmental experts belong to Finpro, a trade association from Finland.
The delegation listened to a presentation by DAFZ officials on tax free operation of businesses and one-stop solutions offered to those setting up branch offices and companies at the Freezone.
“We are visiting the Middle East to study the opportunities in the region and find ways of entering the Middle East market. Finland is an export oriented country and we took part in Gulf construction during the oil boom years of the 70s and 80s. We are now trying to tap opportunities in the region,” said Mr. Tuomo Hyssalo, Head of Finpro Middle East. “Finnish companies could teach their counterparts in this region how to be more efficient, save more energy and electricity in new buildings under construction.”
Mohammed Suwailem, Sales Director of DAFZ, welcomed the delegates and said “Setting up an office in DAFZ does not require sponsorship of a UAE national in the business and having share ownership of a company by the local sponsor. By registering a company in DAFZ 100 per cent ownership of a company is possible for the investor.”
He explained, however, that not all companies could be registered in DAFZ, especially those which need to be regulated by the Municipality or Health authorities such as some service companies and foodstuff companies.
The delegates were informed that a number of Finnish companies are already operating at DAFZ and these are  Vacon Middle East (Branch), AREVA T&D Branch, Lemcon Networks Ltd. (Branch), Anite Finland, Coba Middle East FZCO and Teknoware Middle East to mention a few.
Bassam Al Gayal, Trade Commissioner at the Finland Trade Centre, said Finnish companies are mostly engaged in machinery, telecommunication, engineering services, medical equipment, wood and paper.
“The top destinations for Finnish companies in the Gulf include Saudi Arabia followed by the UAE, Iran and Qatar.”
Finpro is a globally operating expert network for promoting the internationalization of Finnish companies. Finpro employs more than 300 people in 60 offices in over 40 countries and offers expertise and services in all the phases of business internationalization. Finpro’s added value for promoting and developing competitive edge in Finnish industries and businesses includes branch know-how, market expertise, good international and local networks and its ability to predict and understand future business opportunities.
Finpro is rallying Finnish construction and engineering companies for joint export projects in the Arabian Peninsula. There is particularly strong demand for sustainable construction and the related engineering, materials and technologies.
“Finnish companies have potential for ecological urban planning – so-called eco city projects – and infrastructure development projects that require multifaceted know-how. Therefore we are looking for companies with complementary offers, who could take part jointly in these projects. Our objective is to take the Finnish construction industry back to where it was in the golden years of the 1980's in the Arabian Gulf”, says Jorma von Hertzen, Finpro's Senior Consultant.
The Finpro showcase trip for energy, engineering and construction companies will be from October 18-25, 2009. The participants will tour some of the extensive construction projects in the area, including Masdar City and Saadiyat Island. The trip will also include preliminary negotiations for Finnish participation in the projects. In addition to local chambers of commerce, the participants will meet local financiers, developers, constructors and service companies.
“In spite of the economic downturn, construction has continued to show positive growth in the Gulf area in comparison with, for example, Russia and China. Our goal is to open doors for Finnish engineering and construction companies and material suppliers. In the end it all comes down to good connections and reliable partners, that's why local presence is extremely important”, said von Hertzens.
Arab countries are increasingly interested in Finnish construction and environmental technologies. In April, a delegation of the Masdar Initiative for new energy and environmental technologies visited Finland looking for new investments. Masdar invested AED 644 million (US$185million in a Finnish wind turbine manufacturer, Winwind, last year.

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