The Spanish National Day, which falls on October 12, was celebrated on Tuesday with zest and enthusiasm at the country’s pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai. The evening honoured the strong UAE-Spain relations as well as paid tribute to the growing Spanish community in the emirates.
Ambassador of Spain to the UAE Iñigo de Palacio España, the Deputy Commissioner of the Spain Pavilion, Carmen Bueno, and the President of the Spanish Business Council, Guillermo Cobelo Fernández, hosted the event. The country also extended its warm invitation to international visitors of the Expo to join the celebrations and mark the occasion together.
Representatives of the Spanish Companies, members of the Spanish Business Council, ambassadors, and members of the Spanish community as well as Expo authorities attended the event.
The Spanish Business Council sponsors included Royal Arrow, Tecnicas Reunidas, 99 sushi bar, Abengoa, Amadeus, Andreu World, Barceló Hotel Group, Cepsa, Cosentino, Lola Taberna, and Whitehall & Company. Meanwhile, the National Day sponsors included Acciona, BBVA, CaixaBank, Dominion, Dubai Airport Freezone, El Correo del Golfo, IE Business School, Indra, Iota, LaLiga, Meliá Desert Palm, Prince, Rif Trust, Rubert & Partners, Banco Sabadell, Sener, Squire Patton Boggs, Teka, Televés, ThyssenKrup Elevators, The South Oracle, and TYPSA.
The occasion also marked the strong ties between both the UAE and Spain by awarding three Emirati Institutions the ‘Friends of Spain’ title.
Growing Fondness of Spain
Every year, this event reflects the strength of the Spanish Community in the UAE, made up of companies and professionals that are willing to be long-term partners for the UAE. There are more than 10,000 Spaniards currently residing in the UAE, a number that has been growing steadily in recent years. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of tourists that visit Spain every year from the UAE, exceeding 120,000 visitors.
Furthermore, there are a number of associations of Spanish professionals in the UAE. They include the Spanish Business Council, which was founded 16 years ago to strengthen business and cultural ties between Spain and the UAE by linking Spanish companies to Emirati public and private entities, as well as the Association of Spanish Scientists and Researchers, and the Association of Spanish Teachers in the UAE amongst others.
More than 150 Spanish companies operate in this county, and over 5,000 companies exported to the UAE in 2020. Among them, 2,190 companies has been exporting regularly over the past four years.
The Spanish business presence is diverse, and spread across different sectors such as transport, infrastructure, energy, engineering, environment, finance, consulting, or tourism, among others. BBVA in banking, TYPSA in engineering, Royal Arrow in consulting, or Dominion in technology as well as innovative start-ups and incubators to middle-market companies such as Whitehall, Rif Trust, and Rubert & Partners are some examples of this diversity. Other companies such as Cepsa, CaixaBank, and Sabadell also hold a significant position in the market.
Taste of Spain in the UAE
Commercial relations between both countries has picked up since the Covid-19 outbreak. From January to April 2021, exports from Spain increased 6.8 per cent in contrast with the same period of 2020, and imports increased 48.2 per cent.
Spain has also collaborated with the UAE in some of its emblematic projects. Notable examples of this partnership includes Jebel Ali SWRO desalination plant (Acciona), the Dubai Metro Route 2020 (designed and construction by Acciona), Mohammed Al Maktoum Solar Park III (Acciona), STEP Noor Energy (Abengoa), ISCC Waad Al Shamal (Abengoa), Bu Hasa Integrated Field Development for ADNOC Onshore (Tecnicas Reunidas), Integrated Gas Development expansion for ADNOC LNG (Tecnicas Reunidas), the Dubai Metro Route 2020 (Stations’ MEP and RAM & Safety engineering activities), and the Abu Dhabi Light Rail Transit System study (Sener).
As well as the above oil and gas, energy, transportation, utilitarian sectors, and cultural sectors, global tourism and recreational companies have also contributed Spanish experiences in the country. Hotels and restaurants such as Dukes The Palm, Meliá Desert Palm, Carmen restaurant, Lola Taberna, and 99 sushi bar are a few examples. In addition, hospitality and corporate projects such as W Hotel Palm Jumeirah, Qaryat Al Hidd or Jumeirah Gate (Cosentino), Burj Al Arab and Masdar (Andreu World) are also noteworthy.
Furthermore, Spanish innovation has been applied to Emirati partners in various ways. Examples include Amadeus that provides web booking, data management and passenger servicing solutions to Etihad airlines, Televés’ technology for the NMC Royal Hospital in Abu Dhabi and the RIU Hotel Dubai in Deira Islands. The South Oracle has provided ultralight solar panels SUNO UL for the Spain Pavilion at the Expo, and Indra supports the Prime Minister’s Office in identifying emerging technologies.
In the education sector, Spain is well-represented by the IE Business School and LaLiga Football Academy in Dubai among others.
The diplomatic relations between the two countries are also very active and fruitful. In the last two years, the Spanish and the Emirati governments signed Memorandums of Understanding in different sectors: education, defence, security, culture, and technological advancement. Further to this, Spain has been invited as a Guest of Honour at this year’s Sharjah Book Fair that will take place from November 3-13.
Further to the National Day celebrations, the Day of Spain at the Expo will be held on February 2, 2022, to honour the country, its participation at the Expo, and to further accelerate economic ties between Spain, the GCC and the rest of the world.