Abu Dhabi, October 12, 2017: Under the slogan ‘Together … Forever,' the UAE-Saudi Business Forum was held yesterday (Wednesday, October 11, 2017) in Abu Dhabi under the patronage of His Excellency H.E. Engr. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy and H.E. Dr. Majid Al Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment in KSA. The event saw the participation of more than 1,000 officials, investors and entrepreneurs coming from the two countries.
The forum, which was held at the Emirates Palace Hotel, included three sessions that covered key discussions on the national transformation plans under UAE Vision 2021 and KSA Vision 2030; industrial integration and the role of women in the economy. The forum also discussed key ways on how to enhance cooperation across eight main sectors, including industry, tourism, oil, aviation, construction, financial services, food stuff, gold, jewelry, medicines and medical equipment.
The forum was attended by H.E. Saif Mohamed Al Hajeri, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development; H.E. Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Economic Affairs; H.E. Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry; H.E. Khalifa Salem Al Mansouri, Undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, along with a number of UAE senior officials and a Saudi delegation composed of more than 160 officials from several government agencies and the private sector.
The forum is part of the joint retreat called ‘Khalwat Al Azm,.' The outcomes of the event are aimed at enhancing trade, economic and investment cooperation, strengthening ties and opening new investment channels to promote diversification of sources of income, attracting value added investments and increasing the volume of non-oil exports.
The forum was organized by the Ministry of Economy, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development-and Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones (ZonesCorp).
The UAE-Saudi Business Forum was opened with a welcoming speech given by H.E. Saif Mohamed Al Hajeri, emphasizing that the forum is part of the distinguished relations between the two countries. In his speech, he lauded the efforts of the Saudi-UAE Coordination Council, which represents an exceptional example of the serious cooperation between both countries.
Al Hajeri also announced that Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development has taken a number of measures and procedures that are focused on further enabling Saudi investors in Abu Dhabi--including the provision for all facilities and exemptions covered in the ‘Tajer Abu Dhabi' and ‘Industry Pioneers' initiatives.
H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, delivered the opening speech wherein he expressed his pride of the sincere brotherhood between the UAE and KSA, which represents a unique example of cooperation at the Gulf and Arab levels, openly demonstrated by the continuing efforts to enhance stability and growth of the region.
H.E. Al Mansoori pointed out that the bilateral relations between UAE and KSA are still witnessing continuous development and growth, driven by the firm will and sincere determination of the leaderships of the two countries--led by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, H.H. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud--to advance cooperation and synergy between the two countries across various fields of development.
H.E. said: “The UAE–Saudi Business Forum is a vital platform for further achieving greater economic, trade and investment cooperation, based on a joint strategy that focuses on investing in the development prospects and capabilities of the UAE and KSA, which are the two largest Arab economies, as well as benefiting from their huge commercial and investment potentials.”
H.E. pointed out that the trade and investment figures and indicators reflect the depth of the strong ties between the UAE and KSA. He also noted that the KSA is the fourth largest trading partner of the UAE and its first largest Arab partner in 2016. The non-oil trade between the two nations witnessed a significant jump of 30 per cent over the past six years, from around AED 55 billion in 2011 to more than AED 71.5 billion in 2016.
H.E. added: “The political and economic challenges that we face require greater coordination to develop new approaches towards cooperation in the coming period with a wide participation of the private sector from both sides. The forum contributes to strengthening economic integration and exploring promising development opportunities and projects, as well as exchanging experiences and building new partnerships between the business communities in the UAE and KSA.”
Al Mansoori highlighted the UAE's efforts to develop a flexible, open and highly productive economic model and to diversify its economic base, noting that today, the non-oil sectors contribute more than 70 per cent to the UAE's GDP. This further strengthens the foundation of the country's transition to the post-oil era in line with Vision 2021 that aims to build a diversified, sustainable and competitive economy based on knowledge and technology.
“The UAE has focused its attention on strengthening the role of innovation in the development process and has worked through the National Innovation Strategy to catalyze innovative investments in seven key sectors namely renewable energy, transportation, health, education, technology, water and space,” H.E. Al Mansoori added.
The Minister also highlighted the UAE's top priority sectors in the UAE including industries, small and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs), tourism, foreign trade, real estate, financial and logistic services, as well as emerging sectors such as the Islamic economy - all of which are of common interest with KSA and thus considered as key areas for future cooperation.
In the framework of (Khlwat Al Azm), H.E. the Minister also emphasized the importance of cooperation in civil aviation, lauding the deliverables of the sessions related to air transport that was held recently in Dubai and concluded with the development of a framework establishing a Common Aviation Market between both countries to address challenges and increase investment opportunities, as well as build partnership agreements in the logistics, airline and airports segment.
He also urged Saudi investors to explore the huge development opportunities within the UAE business environment and capitalize on its promising facilities, highlighting the UAE's commitment to put in place these platforms and incentives that would help them achieve success and sustainability which is of mutual interests. He stated that the common denominators between the UAE Vision 2021 and KSA Vision 2030 provide an inspiring platform for an effective and fruitful cooperation between both countries.
H.E. Dr. Majid Al Qasabi, Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment, also underscored that the forum is a step towards cementing the bilateral relations and strong cooperation between the two close allies in key sectors, particularly in economy, trade and investments. He further noted that both countries have agreed to hold the forum every two years after the mechanics and agenda are set, consistent with economic, commercial and investment interests and with the business sector as vital partner in economic growth and development in line with the visions of both countries.
H.E Dr. Majid also proposed that efforts should be made to institutionalize the forum's agenda in support of its envisioned contribution to improve bilateral relations and collaboration between the business leaders of both countries, as well as seek solutions needed to overcome challenges that could hinder the effectiveness of the Saudi-Emirati trade and investment links.
H.E. Mohammed Thani Murshed Ghannam Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI), said in a statement that the forum represents an outstanding opportunity for UAE and Saudi businessmen and investors to explore the national and economic transformation initiative of both countries. He also said that industries, construction, oil and gas, financial services, food products, medical supplies, and renewable energy come at the top of the most promising areas of cooperation between both countries.
On the sidelines of the opening session, three agreements and MOUs were also signed to enhance cooperation between the two countries. The first MOU was signed by both the UAE Minister of Economy and the Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment regarding strengthening cooperation and partnership in the field of entrepreneurship. The second MOU was signed by both the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIK) and Al Dahra Holding to promote cooperation in agricultural investments, while the third MOU was signed between Hawkamah - the Institute for Corporate Governance and the Saudi Governance Center.