Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, has confirmed
that bilateral trade between France and the UAE has been sustained even
through the global crisis: "Although international trade has declined as
a result of the global financial crisis, our non-oil bilateral trade
during 2009 maintained its 2008 level of approximately EURO3.3 billion,"
she said. "This affirms the strong commercial ties that exist between
our two countries and the diversified nature of the commodities and
products being traded."
The Minister was speaking at the recent annual gala dinner of the French
Business Council Dubai & Northern Emirates (FBC), held under the
patronage of HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade,
who was also guest of honour. The event brought together over 350 people
from the UAE and French communities, including VIPs and dignitaries.
Also addressing the distinguished audience were the French Ambassador to
the UAE, HE Alain Azouaou; Honorary President of the FBC, Mr Hussain Al
Jaziri; and President of the FBC, Mr Henri Zoleyn.
Sheikha Lubna also stressed the other ties uniting the two countries:
"Our kinship is not limited to business and economic affairs," she
stated and went on to mention the 15,000-strong French community of
citizens in the UAE, who "support our advocacy of inter-cultural
dialogue, especially on our shared goal of enduring peace."
Commenting on the presence of prominent French academic and cultural
institutions in the UAE, she added: "Soon we will be witnessing the
opening of the Le Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which will further affirm our
deep admiration for French culture and society. And earlier this month,
the launching of Air France's new Abu Dhabi-Paris route constituted
another important milestone that offers further testament to the
importance of the strong social, economic, cultural and political ties
between the UAE and France."
The event's main (Diamond) sponsor was Orange Business Services – the
business services arm of France Telecom and one of the largest ICT
employers in the Middle East. Mr Lionel Reina, VP EEMEA of Orange
Business Services and President of LE Club, presented the latest
innovation from the FBC, a new c-level executive group called LE Club,
which brings together 12 senior executives from leading companies to
focus on major projects for the benefit of the French business
community. The group is flying to Paris this week to meet with French
government representatives to present its ideas.
Other principal sponsors of the Gala Dinner include Prisme International
(Platinum sponsor); and gold sponsors - BNP Paribas; Societe Generale;
Emotion; Lagostina; and the official airline, Air France KLM.
The French business community is buoyed with optimism about the future
of Dubai and the region, following the latest membership confidence
survey, in which the majority of French companies confirmed that they
expect to maintain or increase investment and recruitment in the next
six months. This increasing level of interest and business activity is
reflected in the FBC membership, which grew from 300 in 2007 to over 400
at the end of 2009.
Speaking about the forthcoming FBC Gala Dinner, President of the French
Business Council Dubai & Northern Emirates, Mr Henri Zoleyn, comments on
the momentum of French business: "The French business community is very
confident about the prospects for the region, with Dubai as the
commercial hub, and developments such as the new Air France Abu
Dhabi-Paris nonstop flight demonstrate our commitment to the UAE and the
determination to build on the excellent relationships between our two
countries. The FBC in Dubai & Northern Emirates continues to develop
strongly, with an increasingly active and growing membership. We are
deeply honoured to have Sheikha Lubna, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade,
as patron and guest of honour."