A delegation from the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED), recently toured two cities in Portugal including the capital Lisbon, meeting and interacting with businessmen, investor groups and senior government officials. The visit was part of Dubai FDI’s strategic objective of introducing Dubai as an enabling hub to business overseas and attracting competitive enterprises and investors to the emirate.
“We had a successful tour of Portugal last year and the interest we saw from Portuguese investors encouraged us to go there again with more updates on the opportunities in Dubai. There is substantial interest among Portuguese businesses in Dubai’s growing stature as a hub for developing and exporting sector expertise, especially in areas such as industries, agriculture and renewables,” commented Khalid Al Boom, Deputy CEO of Dubai FDI who led the mission.
The Dubai FDI team met representatives of over 50 businesses from diverse sectors such as construction, engineering, healthcare, information technology, and food and beverages in Lisbon and Porto, highlighting the advantages of doing business in Dubai and the emirate’s strategies to grow sustainably, during their six-day visit, which lasted from the 4th to the 10th of September 2016.
Welcoming the delegation in Lisbon, Dr Jorge Oliveira, Secretary of State of Internationalisation at Portugal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed his desire to see more Portuguese companies moving to Dubai to expand their presence across the GCC, Middle East and Africa.
The Portuguese economy has remained steady and expanding since 2014 and the 0.3% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) recorded during the first quarter of 2016 was higher than expected. The country has a strong industrial sector accounting for more than 23% of GDP and comprising innovative enterprises like EDP Renováveis, the 3rd largest producer of wind energy in the world.
The country has also earmarked around €10 billion (nearly AED 41 billion) for innovation, entrepreneurship, internationalization of the economy as well as research and development under its ‘Portugal 2020’ initiative.
“Portugal’s industrial expertise and emphasis on innovation can add substantial value to investment inflows and industrial development in Dubai. The UAE is already home to nearly 600 Portuguese companies spread across multiple sectors such as technology, trade, manufacturing, garments and health,” Al Boom added.
A growing number of Portuguese companies already operate in Dubai and a Portuguese Business Council was established in the emirate earlier this year. According to the Council, trade in non-oil goods and services between the UAE and Portugal in 2015 was valued at AED 1.8 billion (US$500 million) in 2015 and with the new momentum in bilateral relations, bilateral trade is expected to double by 2017.
“Our messages in Portugal were centred on the ease of doing business in Dubai, particularly the smart and innovative services available as well as the unique connectivity and proximity to high-growth markets across the Middle East, Africa, Indian Subcontinent and CIS,” said Ibrahim Ahli, Director, Investment Promotion Division at Dubai FDI.
Senior executives of the Millennium Banco Comercial Portuguêse met with the Dubai FDI delegation, expressing their keenness in establishing their presence in Dubai and enabling their clients to move to Dubai. The delegation also had discussions with Dr Pedro Madeira, Rodrigues, Secretary-General of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCIP), and representatives of the Portugal Global – Trade & Investment Agency (AICEP), Business Association of Portugal (AEP), and Invest Lisboa. Saleh Ahmed Al Theeb Al Hemeiri, Consul at the UAE Embassy in Lisbon, also received the delegation.
Lisbon, home to 2.7 million people and head offices of the multinational companies in Portugal, is one of the leading economic centres in Europe, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports along the continent’s Atlantic coast. The Lisbon Metropolitan Area is heavily industrialised and the Lisbon region is the wealthiest in the country, accounting for nearly 45% of the national gross domestic product (GDP). Porto, the second largest city in Portugal is also heavily industrialised and also home to a diversity of enterprises.