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UAE, Palestine to set up a joint investment firm

Ahmed A. Elewa (Deputy Business Editor)
Filed on February 18, 2006

DUBAI The UAE and Palestine have agreed to the establishment of a new joint investment company, to be announced within a few weeks, according to Mazen Sinokrot, the Palestinian Minister of Economy, who has recently visited the UAE.

Speaking exclusively to Khaleej Times, Sinokrot said, "The purpose of establishing such venture is to explore the investment opportunities in Palestine, and to boost the economic ties with the UAE. Further we are planning as well an Initial Public Offering for the company in the UAE."

"We have already started with the first step towards establishing this company by talking to a large number of investors, that are expected to be the seed for the new entity, including Palestinian as well as Emirati investors, and we expect that this company will see the light within the coming few weeks," he added.

Opportunities: Palestine, according to Sinokrot, offers a variety of opportunities for investors, as there are "several strategic mega-projects on the table," he said.

"We seek to benefit from the UAE's expertise in the field of building and developing marine ports, to develop the Gaza port, not only that, we are also in critical need of management expertise," he added while referring to the successes of Dubai Ports World, paving the way for yet a new venture for the world's number three ports operator.

"Palestine is seeking as well a substantial cement producer, as we have a concrete offer in this regard from some Palestinian businessmen, yet they are in need for foreign partners to get started," he explained.

Further, the minister revealed that other promising opportunities are available in the fields of developing industrial zones, IT, housing, and agriculture, as such investments are to benefit from the economic agreements with the EU, USA, Canada, as well as others.

Privatisation: "There are several presidential decrees to privatise ports, borders checkpoints, cement and its trade, as well as the airport, as our government's intervention in the economic activities is minimal, and such intervention is expected to be terminated by the end of this year, as we are anticipating that the private sector will lead the process of economic development in Palestine," Sinokrot said.

He also explained that there are a lot of benefits and privileges by investing in Palestine, including tax holidays of up to 10 years, and the treatment of foreign investors at the same footage as locals, in addition to the efficiency and speed regarding the registration of business in Palestine, where it can be acquired within a couple of hours, compared to the lengthy and timely procedures in other countries.

The Palestinian minister's visit to the UAE comes within the framework of the preparations for the upcoming "Palestine Development and Investment Conference" (PDIC) which is planned to take place from April 8-10, 2006, in Gaza and Bethlehem, under the patronage of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Several countries are targeted to attend PDIC, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Chile, USA, Canada, and Chile, with the UAE on the top of the list.

Sinokrot explained that UAE's business community revealed deep interest to invest in Palestine "with the encouragement of Shaikh Abdulla bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister and Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister of Economy," he said.

He concluded by pointing out the success of his visit to the UAE, and the overwhelming interest and support from the UAE government and business community, whereas a variety of projects and investments are being considered, in addition to the keenness of the UAE investors to attend PDIC in April.

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