Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, said the diversification initiatives of the UAE Government drive the sustained growth momentum of the economy.
He was addressing the 3rd Arab-Greek Economic Forum held in Athens. Leading a UAE delegation to the event aimed at strengthening economic and trade relations between the Arab world and Greece, Mr Al Mansouri said that as one of the leading economies in the region, the UAE has a key role to play in the new economic landscape that has emerged following the global financial crisis.
He said the theme of the Forum, "Fostering business alliances to tap emerging opportunities" is of crucial importance in today's economic environment, where public private partnerships will have a key role to play in driving economic growth.
The Forum covered key topics including: "Investment and trade opportunities in the Gulf Countries", "Attracting new business in Middle East and Maghreb Countries", "Green business: pillar for Greek economy to regain growth rates", "Revitalizing its economic life through private initiative" and "Private projects in the field: energy renewables, constructions, agro-industry, financing, tourism, transportation".
"As a key investment destination in the Arabian Gulf, the UAE offers unparalleled advantages, which draw strength from our location, cultural diversity, political stability, spirit of enterprise, and commitment to innovation. The UAE is also a land of opportunities where investors from all over the world continue to nurture enterprises into world-class brands," Al Mansouri added.
He explained: "The global financial crisis demonstrated our strong economic fundamentals and resilience in the face of adversity. Our quick and efficient response to the crisis helped reinforce our credentials as an investor-friendly country offering tremendous potential for economic growth."
He said economic diversification has opened new avenues for investment in the UAE with the non-oil sector contributing to 71% of the UAE GDP in 2009. "Our emphasis on a sustainable growth model simply means that our core focus will be on the industries of the future - transport, logistics, hospitality, tourism and renewable energy, to name a few."
Mr Al Mansouri said that major vehicle of the anticipated growth in the UAE will be the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector. "SMEs are the single biggest contributor to UAE GDP and the government is now focusing on empowering this sector to attract entrepreneurial talent and investment," he added.
Mr Al Mansouri said the major strides that the UAE and Greece have taken must translate to closer alliances between stakeholders such as businessmen, investors and tourists. Along with trade and diplomatic missions, organisations such as the Arab-Greek Chamber of Commerce and Development and their counterparts in the UAE will have a great role in energising and advancing bilateral engagement.
In January 2010 the UAE and Greece signed two agreements on avoidance of double taxation on income and air transport. The agreements provide for up to 95 per cent tax exemption on benefits of shares and full exemption on air transport, among various other benefits. The two agreements will have a tremendous impact on the trade balance, investment and tourism between the two countries.
Trade between the UAE and Greece has steadily grown in recent years. During the first nine months of 2008 Greek exports to the UAE increased by 35% to 161 million euro (about AED800 million) over the same period in 2007. The UAE exported traditional goods such as aluminium and tiles worth 35 million euro (175 million AED) to Greece during this period. Travel and tourism have also presented significant opportunities for Greece and the UAE. In 2008 the UAE was classified amongst the top five destinations in the Greek tourism market.
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