The UAE promises immense business opportunities as well as substantial rewards on investment across a diverse field of sectors, experts said at an event on Sunday.
In a knowledge session titled ‘UAE: Land of Opportunities’, organised by MBG Corporate Services along with the BeNeLux and Netherlands Business Council, several experts highlighted various opportunities for European businesses in the country. The session drew the participation of several high-level delegations, government representatives, and officials from various international trade councils who were in Dubai for the Expo 2020 exhibition.
Nienke Gelderloos, Economic Advisor for Expo at the Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dubai, started the session with a keynote on the Netherlands Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
“We think that there are plenty of opportunities here in the UAE, and we have taken an umbrella approach in selecting all the companies that will be exhibiting at Expo 2020 Dubai under the theme ‘Uniting Water, Energy and Food’,” she said. “Eight years ago, when the UAE won the bid to host the Expo, we decided on this theme because it was relevant, and it is still relevant today, and will be for the decades to come. Water, energy, and food are vital resources for life on earth, and we need to be smart about how we go about using them.”
“If we are to sustain a growing population of billions, then we really need to change things,” she added. “We think that the sustainable solutions that we are showcasing at the pavilion are smart and the approach that we have taken is to connect businesses and the opportunities that they see. Solar panels on the roof provide the energy to power a water making machine that harvests water from the air – we harvest up to 800 litres of clean water a day – which we then use to grow food such as edible plants on the exterior and oyster mushrooms in the interior of the pavilion’s 18m vertical farm.”
Shailendra Ranjan, director of MBG, in his presentation looked back on the history of the UAE and the strides that it had made since the formation of the union. He noted that the UAE leadership has already developed a vision of how to take the country forward from where it was today under the UAE Centennial 2071, which is based on four key pillars including: a future-focused government; excellent education; a diversified knowledge economy; and a happy and cohesive society.
The UAE Centennial 2071 is a five-decade vision for future generations that includes the development of a national strategy to enhance the country’s reputation and soft power; ensuring diverse sources of government revenue other than oil; investing in advanced technology based education; instilling ethics and values in future generations; increasing productivity of the national economy; and enhancing community cohesion.
“There are several factors that have gone into building the UAE into what it is today,” said Ranjan. “These include a stable political environment; its position as a strategic trade hub; multiple free zones; and business friendly ownership policies. All of these will go a long way in transforming the UAE over the next few years.”
The UAE, despite being a small nation, attracts the largest FDI, not only in the GCC region, but across the Mena region as well, he added. “All of this has led to a flurry of activity across various sectors. The oil and gas sector immediately comes to mind, but beyond this there are other sectors that see a healthy dose of activity such as financial services, e-commerce, hospitality, retail, education, manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare.”
Serious investors, he said, are spoiled for choice when choosing where to invest. One sector that has always proven to be popular with investors is the real estate sector in Dubai. “As of 2020, the UAE’s real estate sector was valued at $101.45 billion. Between 2020 and 2025, the sector is anticipated to grow at a rate of 3.8 per cent per year. The sector has its ups and downs and we know that if there is not a boom in the next two to three years, then there is going to be a boom in the next five to ten years.”
Another sector that promises good returns, he said, is the e-commerce sector, which saw accelerated growth during the lockdowns and the pandemic, as people took to shopping online for all their needs. The UAE’s e-commerce market is expected to grow to $17 billion by 2025. Ranjan predicted that there would be more balance in the sector moving forward as the UAE is a country which enjoys the brick and mortar shopping experience. However, the growth of the population in the country and the surrounding economies would result in steady growth for the sector.
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