A structured and befitting cooperation with UAE

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Yannis Michaelides, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the UAE
Yannis Michaelides, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the UAE

Yannis Michaelides, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the UAE highlights how joint collaborations with the UAE have immense benefits for businesses and residents


Rhonita Patnaik

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Published: Thu 22 Dec 2022, 10:52 AM

How would you describe Cyprus’s level of bilateral trade and business links with the UAE and which areas do you see strengthening going forward?

Friendly relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the UAE date back several decades, as highlighted by the official visit to the UAE on May 24, 1975, of the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, the late Archbishop Makarios III and his historic meeting with the founding father of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Occupying a strategic position at the gateways of Europe, Asia and Africa, Cyprus has sought to deepen its relations with the GCC countries and is now witnessing a real impetus in the development of its political and economic cooperation with these countries and with the UAE in particular.

The establishment of a Joint Committee for Cooperation and as well as the signing of an Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation with the UAE are two important tools which contribute to enhancing our bilateral relations. The Joint Declaration of February 2022 by the Cyprus and UAE Governments for a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership sets the framework for further expanding Cyprus’ bilateral relations with the UAE in the political as well as in the economic sector.

The official visit of the President of the Republic of Cyprus to the UAE for the National Day of Cyprus at Expo 2020 Dubai in February 2022 was an opportunity for the two sides to reaffirm the robust and privileged relations between the two countries. The President’s meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was an occasion to explore new avenues of cooperation especially in the fields of business and investment, as well as opportunities that can benefit the private sector in both countries.

Cyprus now enjoys a structured cooperation with the UAE, witnessing a significant expansion in bilateral ties, with diverse opportunities for collaboration emerging in various key fields, including trade, investment, energy, education, culture, tourism, security and defence.

What would you say are the strong points of Cyprus for potential businesses and investors looking to make connections?

The Cyprus Government has sought to maintain conditions of stability and confidence, to consolidate and modernise Cyprus’ banking system and to preserve tax certainty and a business-friendly environment for the private sector.

Cyprus’ legal system, based on English Common Law principles, is widely recognised as an effective system that ensures transparency and reliability in business practices, offering foreign businesses a familiar and reliable framework within which to operate. The launch of the Business Facilitation Unit, which provides for fast-tracking business setup, undoubtedly establishes Cyprus as a business-friendly location.

Our country’s competitive advantages are significantly enriched by a robust and transparent legal and regulatory framework and an attractive tax regime, which offers a wide range of incentives and advantages both for legal and natural persons.

Human talent constitutes Cyprus’ most compelling advantage, complemented by a broad range of high-quality professional services. As a dynamic business centre, Cyprus offers an abundance of highly educated skilled individuals, ready to serve the needs of any business.

How does the strategic location of Cyprus, being at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia make it an attractive asset for businesses and companies to tap into various markets?

As an EU Member State situated at the crossroads of three continents, Cyprus is an ideal platform for regional cooperation and a reliable partner that has built, over the years, a secure investment environment. We have established a comprehensive economic diplomacy with key priorities, clear objectives and relevant action plans, promoting Cyprus as a preferred business and investment destination. The strong presence of foreign investment in Cyprus, which we welcome and support, is a confidence vote to the island and its economy.

Cyprus has long established itself as a thriving business hub with a vast array of investment opportunities in key growth sectors of the economy. The island’s ideal strategic location, advanced infrastructure and high quality of life are among the many reasons to invest in Cyprus. As such, the island is an ideal investment gateway to the European Union, as well as a portal for investment outside the EU, particularly into the Middle East, India and China. As a member of the Eurozone, Cyprus ensures safety and stability for investors, while also offering them market access to millions of EU citizens.

Our current structured cooperation with the UAE, allows a significant expansion in bilateral economic ties between our two countries with a significant increase of non-oil trade from the preceding year.

In 2016, DP World, a leading Emirati worldwide provider of smart logistics solutions, was awarded a concession to operate the multi-purpose port terminal in Limassol. Cypriot manufactured products are already of considerable interest to Emirati companies in the fields of agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals and building materials.

We are, thus, looking forward to the diverse opportunities for collaboration that will emerge across various fields, having established solid relations with key partners in the region, which we are determined to further pursue actively. There is an opportunity for growth and investment and for connecting important markets and building synergies.

Can you elaborate on some of the attractive infrastructure and facilities and policies that have been put in place to attract potential investors?

New infrastructure and housing developments are underway across the country with significant foreign investor backing. International companies are setting up headquarters in Cyprus, which is becoming an increasingly attractive gateway to growth markets. Cyprus’ growth performance is attracting foreign direct investment from different parts of the world and especially from the Middle East and Asia.

With a constantly evolving system of advanced and modern infrastructure, Cyprus offers sophisticated road, air and sea transport solutions and services, which are widely recognised as an important competitive advantage in attracting foreign direct investment.

Cyprus’ two multi-purpose deep sea ports, one of which is operated by DP World, handle passenger and freight cargo while offering logistics solutions through advanced facilities for cost-effective transport and processing. In addition, the coastal city of Limassol is a renowned cruise liner hub and a popular ‘stop-over’ for international cruise ships.

Two modern international airports in Larnaca and Paphos, offer their services to approximately 10 million visitors per year, connecting the island to the most popular transit hubs throughout the world.

Considerable investment has also been made to transform the island into a major telecommunications hub in the region, providing fast connections via submarine fibre optic cable and satellite to the rest of the world. Cyprus has also been working hard to establish itself as a tech hub and an ideal location for technology businesses.

Furthermore, Cyprus is now emerging as an energy centre in the Eastern Mediterranean region with the exploration of its natural resources in hydrocarbons, within its Exclusive Economic Zone. The hydrocarbons industry in Cyprus has the potential to attract investment, business and expertise through the entire oil and gas industry chain.

Building a strong bilateral, regional and international cooperation with reliable partners on energy markets and renewables, places Cyprus at a unique position in connecting Asia, the Middle East, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe. In addition, Cyprus ranks among the first countries in the world in the use of solar energy for water heating and the solar thermal industry today accommodates a considerable number of small and medium-sized enterprises. The island has a very high potential for the integration of renewable energy systems and technologies such as concentrated solar thermal and energy storage along with, wind and solar energy production, renewable hydrogen and electricity interconnectors.

With a significantly large Cypriot population residing in the UAE, how has that helped in solidifying bilateral relations and has led to opening-up of more avenues of collaboration?

The UAE is second home to many Cypriots and there are currently more than seventy Cypriot companies operating in the country. The participation of Cyprus in major commercial exhibitions and business fora in the UAE undoubtedly contributes to the strengthening of our bilateral trade relations. The island, which is the closest European country to the UAE, has become a popular destination not only for UAE citizens but also for the expatriates living in the Emirates and the number of visitors from the UAE has been steadily growing. We are confident that the relationship between Cyprus and the UAE will continue to grow and expand in the future in countless fields of collaboration. Indeed, the many fields of cooperation include renewable energy, tourism, investments, infrastructure, health, education, merchant shipping and maritime Industry, commerce, gas and oil exploration and others, as we are committed to strengthening the links between Cyprus and the UAE. We see tremendous opportunities for further bilateral cooperation and we look forward to working together with the UAE on matters ranging from regional stability and prosperity to combating climate change.

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