UAE Minister of Foreign Trade H.E. Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi visited the Stockholm World Trade Center, the Swedish Trade Council and the Stockholm School of Economics during her recent trip to Stockholm, Sweden.
H.E. Sheikha Lubna was accompanied by H.E. Sheikha Najla Mohammed Al Qasimi, UAE Ambassador to Sweden; H.E. Eng. Salah Salem Bin Omeir Al Shamsi, Chairman of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI); H.E. Otaiba Al Otaiba, Member of the Board of Directors of ADCCI; and H.E. Abdullah Sultan, General Secretary of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Fujairah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (MASDAR), and Du Telecom also formed part of the delegation.
During its tour of the Stockholm World Trade Center, the delegates attended a presentation delivered by the Center’s officials. The audience was introduced to the Swedish economy; its industries; the objectives, activities and future plans of the Center; and the international companies working under its supervision inside and outside of Sweden.
The officials assured the delegates of lucrative investment opportunities in Sweden in various fields. They explained that the country adopts high technological standards in all of its economic sectors and uses advanced technological skills, which have helped Sweden rank 9th in the Global Competitiveness Index. They also pointed out that advanced Swedish research centers and universities have been instrumental in enabling domestic companies and factories to further develop the performance of their products.
They finally added that the Stockholm World Trade Center operates four branches in important business regions and indicated that there are expansion plans in the Middle East and especially in the UAE.
After the presentation, a series of discussions were held to explore possible ventures between UAE and Swedish companies in various sectors, particularly in renewable energy. The UAE delegates in turn invited the Stockholm World Trade Center to take advantage of the commercial and competitive advantages offered by their country, strengthen the presence of Swedish businesses in the Emirates’ markets, and establish more joint investment projects.
H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi and her accompanying delegation then held a series of talks with officials of the Swedish Trade Council headed by Mrs. Aysen Savci, Vice President Southern Europe, Northern Africa and Middle East and Central Asia.
During their meeting, Her Excellency reviewed the UAE’s economic development and the high level of growth recorded by the domestic economy, pointing out that the contribution of non-oil sectors to the country’s GDP reached more than 64 per cent, with most of the revenue coming from the service and industry sectors.
Her Excellency said that the UAE’s status one of the most open countries in the Middle East provides a lot of major investment opportunities. She also referred to the country’s strategic proximity to a geographical area containing more than two billion consumers, and pointed to the UAE as the center of international trade throughout the Gulf.
She emphasized that the UAE welcomes Swedish investors and businessmen and urges them to take advantage of the investment opportunities and facilities provided by the State for the business community.
For his part, H.E. Salah Al Shamsi gave a summary of the economic performance of Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general and the Abu Dhabi government’s development strategy in various economic sectors. He also discussed the increased contribution of the non-oil sectors to the Emirates’ GDP.
Al Shamsi pointed out the well-developed investment environment of Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a whole, which has made the country a hub for leading international companies seeking growth and expansion.
Afterwards, Mrs. Savci gave an overview of the Council’s activities and the performance of its Dubai office, which was inaugurated in 2006. She noted the great opportunities for cooperation between UAE and Swedish companies in various areas, which would be helpful for Swedish businesses to expand into the Middle Eastern and Asian markets.
She added that there are 100 Swedish companies managing 70 per cent of the country’s exports, highlighting the technical and technological expertise of these companies in various activities.
H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi and her delegation proceeded to the Stockholm School of Economics, where the Minister delivered a speech in commemoration of the institution’s 100th year. She discussed the development of relations between the UAE and Sweden in addition to the latest economic and social trends in the Emirates.
H.E. emphasized that the UAE is the second largest economy in the Arab world, with a domestic product of around USD 199 billion. She added that the country is considered as one of the most open and vital economies in the Middle East and continues to witness rapid growth and development. She noted that more than 64 per cent of the country’s national income comes from the non-oil sectors, and that half of the figure is from the services sector, which has been growing at a very high rate and has become highly competitive among those of other developed countries.
H.E. spoke of government plans and development strategies in various sectors and areas that consider the social aspects of economic performance and the achievement of growth in the coming years, and how they contribute to attracting more foreign investments. She also noted the proactive procedures adopted by the UAE to overcome the possible effects of the financial crisis on the national economy and to support the domestic banking system, specifically the maintenance of the required cash flow to ensure sustained national economic development.
H.E. proceeded to highlighting the achievements of the UAE in the field of tourism, revealing that more than 8 million tourists visited the country in 2008. She said that this figure is expected to reach 10 millions this year, pointing out that the occupation rate of hotels in the country throughout 2008 was more than 90 per cent. And this at a time, she noted, when UAE airlines are extensively covering all parts of the world.
H.E. referred to the spirit of tolerance and openness fostered by UAE society, which continues to attract expatriates from 182 countries. She explained that this affirms the vitality of the domestic market and its ability to interact with all nationalities in a friendly and tolerant manner. She confirmed the presence of hundreds of foreign schools in the UAE dedicated to educating local and foreign students residing in the country.
At the conclusion of the meeting, H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi answered the questions and queries of students and economic researchers regarding the general economic and social activities of the UAE.