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Middle East - Luxembourg: A New Boost

13.10.2017 08:50

International Affairs

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

The Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Economy and the Luxembourg Embassy in Abu Dhabi, organized an official mission to the United Arab Emirates from the 9th to the 13th of October 2017. The mission, comprising a delegation of 70 businessmen, was headed by H.R.H. the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and led by H.E. Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy. Further to an invitation of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce arranged an exploratory visit to Muscat on October 9, 2017.

The Sultanate of Oman is an example of economic success. During the reign of the Sultan Qaboos the per capita income rose from US $ 450 to more than US $ 29,000. Today, the Omani economy remains heavily dependent on the hydrocarbon sector, but has simultaneously pursued a development plan that focuses on diversification with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP from 46% at present to 9% by 2020, in accordance with Oman’s ninth five-year development plan. The plan identifies four major development axes: mining production, high-end tourism, gas based industries and port and airport infrastructure.

As part of this first trip of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce to Oman, the delegation paid a visit to the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry where a business forum took place. The President, Saeed Al Kiyumi, underlined the aim of strengthening bilateral ties between the two chambers and exploring new potentialities. A Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the two institutions has been signed and a visit to Luxembourg by an Omani delegation will be arranged for next year.

The official mission started in Abu Dhabi with the signing of an MoU of collaboration in space between the UAE Space Agency and spaceresources.lu. To pave the way for further relations a business forum was organized, followed by a visit of Masdar City. Designed by the British architectural firm Foster and Partners, the city relies on solar energy and other renewable energy sources and is a hub for cleantech companies. The Masdar City buildings are at least 40% more energy and water efficient than conventional urban buildings. 90% of construction waste is reused or recycled. Masdar has developed renewable energy projects across more than 20 countries.

A seminar, dedicated to presenting the Luxembourg economy, its opportunities and its innovations – took place on October 11 in Dubai. Some 40 local companies came to assess the potential of Luxembourg for their business. After the official openings of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Guillaume and of Minister Etienne Schneider, the Director General of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, Carlo Thelen highlighted the different sectors in which the two countries could partner up,

On the Dubai side, Hisham Al Shirawi, Vice President of Dubai Chamber of Commerce, explained how to do business with Dubai. Furthermore, the Luxembourg delegates got to know more about technology, innovation and tourism in Dubai: 20 million visitors are expected by 2020, 139 hotels are built in 2017, in addition to the existing 680.

Other events included the visit to the GITEX Technology week (www.gitex.com) and the establishing of a codeshare partnership for air cargo transport between Cargolux and Emirates SkyCargo. The codeshare partnership is the latest of strategic steps between the two firms. Earlier this year they announced plans to work more closely on an operational level in the areas of block space, aircraft charter and hub connectivity between Dubai and Luxembourg.

Speaking about signing, it is important to mention that, the same day, the Economic Interest Group Expo2020, comprising the government, POST Luxembourg, SES and the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, has signed the participation agreement in Dubai for Expo2020. Minister Étienne Schneider also announced: “As for the pavilion, we will repatriate it to Luxembourg after the Expo2020 and it will host the future Luxembourg space agency.”

In addition, a seminar explaining the business opportunities offered to the Luxembourg companies, was organised by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. Expo2020 is a universal exhibition of projects around sustainability, mobility and opportunity under the banner “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. Hosting more than 200 countries, it takes place in Dubai from October 2020 to April 2021 over a 600 hectare site. Luxembourg’s pavilion will be created around the theme “resourceful Luxembourg”. 25 million visitors are expected; 70% international and 30% national representatives.17.500 suppliers are already registered. To be part of the journey, an interactive online sourcing platform has been created: https://esource.expo2020dubai.ae.

The last day was spent in Ras Al Khaimah. Not being a producer of oil, Ras-al-Khaimah has focused on developing its industrial sector, real estate, building materials, high tech industry and educational sector. The business delegation paid a visit to RAK Ceramics, one of the major ceramics brands in the world. The company RAK specialises in ceramic and gres porcelain wall and floor tiles, sanitary ware, kitchen sinks, including faucets for walls, floors, bathrooms and kitchens. As part of this Ceramics Group, which employs around 15,000 people worldwide, Rak Porcelain Europe has been operating in the Grand Duchy since 2006. It is located in Windhof via a logistics platform and is preparing to expand to Bettembourg. "The cost of the investment is estimated at 7.5 million Euros," confided Claude Peiffer, Managing Director of RAK Ceramics in Luxembourg, who organized with his team the visit on site for the delegation.

Participating companies from Luxembourg had also tailor-made business meetings with local companies and institutions. The Luxembourg delegation was impressed by the high level of creativity and innovation of the UAE economy. The United Arab Emirates are indeed in search of expertise in diverse sectors: energy, finance, health care, environment, transport and logistics, construction and infrastructure. After being hit badly by falling oil and real estate prices during the financial crisis, the United Arab Emirates are again experiencing a substantial construction boom, including major investments in real estate, tourism and leisure infrastructure, an expanding manufacturing base and a thriving services sector. The country's free trade zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP from the oil and gas sector to 30%.

A boost in paving new ways between Luxembourg and the Middle East is expected. As Hisham Shirawi concluded in his presentation: „It is not the big fish which succeeds these days but the fast!“

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

Ras Al Khaïmah (RAK Chamber) - RAK-Luxembourg Business Forum - Presentation by Carlo Thelen, general director of the Luxemboug Chamber of Commerce: « Luxembourg, the European country that never ceases to amaze you ! © SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen