UAE and Spain focus on direct investment, renewable energy
Despite the turmoil, the Spanish economy has returned to the top 20 most-globalised economies in the world, confirmed a 2013 report prepared by Ernst & Young entitled, “Looking beyond the obvious: Globalisation and new opportunities for growth”.
Today, Spain is a leader in many key sectors. It holds the second position in the world for green patents; the country’s innovation in the field of solar energy is significant, accounting for 43 per cent of the total number of patents. It is the fifth country in terms of the overall number of renewable energy patents. In regards to investment volume, Spain ranks seventh globally.
Jose Eugenio Salarich, Ambassador of Spain to the UAE, spoke to Khaleej Times and shared his thoughts. Excerpts from the interview:
I am extremely glad to be in the UAE for almost two years now. The Spanish community in the UAE is increasing in numbers and today there are around 11,000 Spanish citizens living in Abu Dhabi and Dubai most of them being in the latter. They work for of companies doing business in the UAE, looking out for investments and promoting trade and cultural exchange between the UAE and Spain.
It is increasingly good and very positive. We have lot of business interests from both countries. We have a surplus with the UAE mainly because we do not import oil and gas but we export a lot of goods. So we are trying to increase efforts in this direction. We have a powerful commercial office in Dubai, with professionals to take it forward. It is number two in the world giving personalised attention to Spanish companies. We work well together to promote bilateral trade. The biggest trade partner in the Middle East for Spain is Saudi Arabia followed by the UAE. According to the Spanish Trade Commission, exports from Spain to the UAE were valued at €1.5 billion.
Areas of cooperation
Spain continues to work with the UAE in infrastructure, railway, energy, environment and renewable energy, tourism, technology and health sectors. Spanish companies have demonstrated experience, technology and leadership in these areas. Spain is specialised in renewable energies. It is the second-largest wind-energy and solar producer in the EU. Spanish companies are leaders in thermo solar energy technology. The country is the third-largest car manufacturer in Europe and eighth in the world. Spanish companies are leaders in reverse osmosis technology used for desalination plants. Spanish company Abengoa Solar is part of a consortium to help the UAE build the world’s largest solar plant collaborating with the UAE’s alternative energy company Masdar. All this is proof of what Spain is capable of doing. Additionally, Spanish companies have a very high ranking in world affairs and are renowned and respected.
Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, and Luis de Guindos Jurado, Spain’s Minister of Economy and Competitiveness, have expressed satisfaction over the UAE-Spain Joint Economic Committee meeting that took place in Abu Dhabi in June and underlined the need to consolidate efforts both bilaterally and through the EU platform to facilitate access to key markets.
Spain is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are tourism hubs as well. We are establishing a trilateral linkage between tourists coming from the Asia-Pacific region, passing through Dubai and going to Europe. Minister of Industry and Tourism D. Jose Manuel Soria Lopez was in the UAE recently. The Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Maria Borrego Cortes, was here to attend the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai earlier this year. Both held conversations and meetings with high officials to this end.
Places of interest
Since Spain is a Mediterranean country, [so] I like the sea. Abu Dhabi is ideally-located for sea sports. I like to travel, visit historical sites in the UAE, play on the golf course or dine at a seaside restaurant. Everything about the UAE is impressive, the landscape of Dubai, the hotels and life in general. Emirates Palace, Jumeirah Towers, Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Dubai Marina, etc are specific areas that attract me and it is a pleasure to attend business meetings at these properties.
The challenges for me are to increase trade, strengthen bilateral economic relations and make Spain better known in the UAE.
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