Just ten days before the official start of the Dubai World Expo 2020, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Madrid, Majid Hassan Mohamed Al Suwaidi, yesterday expressed his wish that the event will contribute to “further strengthen” the “already solid and stable” economic relations with Spain.
The ambassador participated yesterday, together with the Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, in a breakfast organized by The Diplomat in Spain and ATREVIA, with the collaboration of Técnicas Reunidas, Barceló and Hospitales de Madrid, in which the details and expectations of the Expo were anticipated, the first to be held in the regions of the Middle East and South Asia and which will host, also for the first time, 191 countries. Dubai World Expo 2020 will open on October 1 and expects to welcome 25 million visitors over the next six months. Under the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, it will revolve around three main axes: sustainability, mobility and opportunity.
The forum began with a speech by Mrs. Xiana Méndez, who anticipated the main axes into which the meeting will be divided and which, in turn, will organize the EXPO site in districts: sustainability, mobility and opportunity. “The essence of all Universal Expos is to contribute to designing a better world through active collaboration between people. To this end, these three topics have been defined as the main themes; because they are, without a doubt, issues that are at the center of the international debate and will be addressed with the prominence that momentous events as this one demands,” the Vice-Minister for Trade said in this regard. The objective is to focus on the main challenges facing the world, not only economic but also environmental, without forgetting urgent social issues such as gender equality,” she added.
For his part, Ambassador Al Suwaidi emphasized the “future-oriented model” that the Emirates represents for the Middle East: “It is a country that empowers women, welcomes diversity, fosters innovation and incorporates global commitments,” he said, while remaining optimistic and convinced that “Dubai will witness, with this event, the latest and best innovations in business, science and technology, art and culture.”
Both agreed on the UAE’s potential as a business center and investment hub, “not only because of its political and economic stability, but also because of its long-term vision to drive the engines of its economy. We sincerely believe that it is the most suitable platform in the region to expand business, and the EXPO will certainly be a great opportunity to demonstrate this, and for companies to increase their activity,” Mendez highlighted.
“In 2019 alone, the UAE recorded the highest growth in renewable energy investments globally, reaching an increase of 1223% compared to 2018,” highlighted Al Suwaidi, who did not hesitate to state the UAE’s desire to “lead in shaping the global economy over the next 50 years”. To support this vision, he asserted that the government has established more than 34 free and specialized economic zones operating under different legislations in a low-tax environment, as well as a number of new initiatives have been introduced to promote foreign direct investment which, among others, include laws that will allow 100% ownership of local companies by global investors in the UAE, as well as other incentives to encourage foreign investors to choose the UAE as a strategic partner. ”This is how we have managed to attract more than 3,200 foreign companies now doing business in our territory.”
More than US$9 billion in bilateral investments
The ambassador also highlighted the excellent economic relations between the two countries, with a bilateral investment flow of more than 9 billion dollars and the presence in the country of more than 170 Spanish companies ”that benefit from the strategic location of the UAE” and its advantages in terms of business and economic stability. He also highlighted the importance of agreements such as the one reached between CEOE (the biggest Spanish Entrepreneurial Organisation) and the Emirates International Investors Council, noting that “although economic relations are already solid and stable, both countries can do much more and Expo Dubai will serve the objective of further strengthening ties between the two territories”.
For her part, Mrs. Mendez assured that “UAE and Spain are closely intertwined strategic partners. UAE is one of the largest foreign investors in Spain and the leading investor among GCC countries. In 2018, it accounted for more than €6 billion in foreign direct investment in terms of equity, mainly through its Sovereign Wealth Funds. Mubadala is our largest Emirati investor with a large stake in several top Spanish companies such as CEPSA, Enagas, Matsa or Glovo. But the most important thing is that there are large investment projects ahead that invite us to look to the future with enthusiasm”.