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 High ranking UAE trade delegation concludes Kurdistan Region visit 

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High ranking UAE trade delegation concludes Kurdistan Region visit  23.5.2010 
Report by Mariwan Faydullah Salihi for ekurd.net 

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Kurdistan President Barzani: "We are keenly interested in benefiting from the UAE's outstanding experience in co-existence, prosperity and development"

May 23, 2010


ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The United Arab Emirates [UAE], headed by their Foreign Trade Minister, concluded a two-day visit by a high ranking trade delegation to Erbil, capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Region, exploring ways to promote trade, economic, investment projects and other agreements between the two sisterly nations.

The Emirati delegation consisted of 48 high ranking officials –headed by UAE's Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi – and included several prominent businessmen, investors and heads of companies from the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state.
The visit started on May 18 with the arrival of the delegation to Erbil, who also paid a visit to Iraq's Kurdistan Region President, Massoud Barzani; Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi was received by President Barzani in Salahaddin resort, alongside her accompanying delegation.

"We do hold great respect for and appreciation of the leadership, government, people of the United Arab Emirates," President Barzani told the delegation, while adding:" Promoting brotherly solid relations with the UAE is among the priorities of Kurdistan Region in particular, and Iraq in general, who are keenly interested in benefiting from the UAE's outstanding experience in co-existence, prosperity and development. The Kurdish President wished Sheikha Lubna and the accompanying delegation a successful and fruitful visit.

For her part, Sheikha Lubna, on behalf of the UAE Government and the high-profile delegation, expressed gratitude to President Baazani for the

Kurdistan PM Barham Salih and UAE Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi at Saad Abdullah Conference Palace in Erbil on Wednesday, May 19. 2010. Photo:
Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net

hospitality and warm welcome accorded by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to the members of the delegation upon arrival. She said we are quite happy to be in Iraq's Kurdistan Region.

Part of the UAE trade delegation in Saad Abdullah Conference Palace in Erbil on Wednesday, May 19, 2010. Photo:Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net

"The UAE is aware of Kurdistan Region's security, prosperity and business opportunity," Sheikha Lubna told "The Kurdish Globe."

She also said that the main aim of her visit to Kurdistan Region is to translate the ideas and shared visions reached during the visit of Barham Salih, Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region, to the UAE last February, on trade, economic, investment projects and agreements in the interest of the two countries.

Sheikha Lubna stressed the importance of the delegation's visit to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, referring to UAE's keenness to promote trade, investment and economic cooperation with Iraq.

Emiratis "impressed" with Kurdistan

On Wednesday, May 19 - the last day of trip, a large trade conference was held between both sides at the Martyr Saad Abdullah Conference Palace in the capital Erbil. Several senior officials from the KRG and the Federal Iraqi Government, alongside local and UAE businessmen and investors attended the gathering.

"We pay full attention to Kurdistan, we are here to deepen relations and to do more investment in the region," Sheikha Lubna told the conference.

Many Emirati investors and businessmen hailed Kurdistan Region's security and booming economy.

"Kurdistan is very impressing," noted Abdullah Belhoul, Managing Director of Dubai Industrial City [a Dubai Holding company]. "The state-of-the art facilities, including the new Erbil International Airport, conference facilities and the rest of the infrastructure are very encouraging," Belhoul said to "The Kurdish Globe."

Another potential Emirati investor, Edris S. Haboosh – Senior Vice President of Atlas Telecom, said that he looked forward to do business in Kurdistan Region. "It seems that Erbil is ahead with development in Iraq."

Kurdistan will facilitate UAE investments

Meanwhile, Kurdistan Region Trade Minister pledged full support to UAE investments in the area. Sinan Chalabi said the KRG would support and facilitate more for the UAE investors who want to do business in Kurdistan Region.


Part of the UAE trade delegation in Saad Abdullah Conference Palace in Erbil on Wednesday, May 19, 2010. Photo:Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net

"The visit from the UAE delegation, besides deepening commercial relations, is also a renewing of pledge between us," mentioned Chalabi.

For his part, Kurdistan's Prime Minister, Barham Salih, told UAE investors that his region is an excellent opportunity for them. According to Salih,
www.ekurd.netKurdistan Region has a per capita income of more than US$ 4,500 – more than 30% higher than the rest of Iraq – meaning the region has an important consumer market.

"Kurdistan is open and welcomes you," he said to the UAE delegation while concluding his speech.

Large UAE companies currently operating in Kurdistan Region, include Dana Gas - the Arab World's largest private gas company, DNATA (providing services at the new international terminal in Erbil) and Rotana, managing a new five-star hotel located in Erbil, due to open in September this year.

UAE investments in Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq mainly concentrate on the oil and gas sector, tourism, aviation, retail and real-estate projects.

In 2009, Iraq ranked 11th in the UAE's global trade partners and second only [after Saudi Arabia] in the Arab World. The volume of non oil trade exchange amounted last year to more than five billion dollars, constituting 2.8 per cent of total UAE foreign trade, compared to three billion dollars in 2008 – a dramatic increase of 63% despite the global economical recession.
The UAE is classified as a high income developing economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The per capita income of the oil-rich country is put at US$ 47,000 by the IMF – roughly ten times higher than Iraq's Kurdistan Region – making it one of the richest nations in the world.

Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, journalist at Kurdish Globe and Rudaw in Erbil/Iraqi Kurdistan and regular eKurd.net contributing writer. You may reach the author via email at: mariwan.journalist (at) gmail.com  

Copyright © 2010 ekurd.net

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