Dubai – The UAE International Investors Council (UAEIIC) recently conducted its first-ever annual meeting under the patronage and presence of H.E. Eng. Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy and Chairman of the UAEIIC, and in cooperation with J.P. Morgan Bank. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel Dubai, the meeting discussed the current opportunities and challenges faced by Emirati enterprises and national investments in the global markets.
The meeting was attended by H.E. Jamal Saif Al Jarwan, Secretary General of the UAEIIC, along with Dr. Luis Oganes, Global Head of Emerging Markets Research at J.P. Morgan, and various distinguished economic officials, businessmen, and Emirati investors.
H.E. Eng. Al Mansouri inaugurated the event with an opening speech emphasizing the country’s full commitment to the development of Emirati investments as part of its vision of establishing a world-class, competitive and diverse economy driven by knowledge and innovation. He explained that investment is critical to economic diversification, the UAE’s global economic competitiveness, the transfer of knowledge, and the exchange of international expertise and technology.
The Minister added that the national economy has proven its ability to successfully address various factors and challenges currently affecting the economy, noting that the UAE’s GDP continued to grow at a rate of 3.8 per cent in 2015. He emphasized the development of the legislative and regulatory frameworks underpinning the UAE economy which he said has played a pivotal role in spurring investments and enhancing the country’s capacity to attract foreign investments into vital local industries.
He further pointed out that overseas Emirati investments have been growing remarkably over the past few years, reaching around USD 9.3 billion in 2015 and cumulatively jumping to USD 87.4 billion, making the UAE the top Arab foreign investor.
H.E. Eng. Al Mansouri continued that the UAEIIC provides an outstanding platform for developing overseas Emirati investments. He explained that the Council is instrumental to facilitating communication and coordination with government authorities to secure support, protection, promotion and expansion of the interests and objectives of member Emirati investors abroad in service of the national economy. He further emphasized the organization’s role in overcoming the challenges faced by Emirati investment companies and providing a database for identifying foreign investment opportunities as well as sharing information and analyses for encouraging and increasing overseas Emirati investments.
The Minister invited Emirati enterprises investing in the external markets to consider membership under the UAEIIC which offers an interactive platform for enriching their expertise and leveraging the international experiences of their peers. He added that the Council provides a specialized channel for communicating with government authorities on various challenges and obstacles faced by businesses abroad which allows the government to extend the necessary support and maintain harmonious and symbiotic relations between the private and public sectors.
Before proceeding with any investment project, H.E. Eng. Al Mansouri urged investors to assess the economic performance indices of the potential markets and consider all legislations and regulations pertaining to foreign investments to minimize problems and risks. He explained that when it comes to the combined roles of the public and private sectors, as long as all information on overseas Emirati investments are provided to the government, then the necessary support will always be provided to address obstacles facing Emirati enterprises worldwide, which he said is what the UAEIIC is committed to offer.
H.E. emphasized that the Council’s annual meeting is an excellent opportunity for highlighting the best approaches to evaluating economic movements that affect the flow and growth of foreign investment. He noted that the meeting identifies the global expertise necessary to maximize the capacities of promising sectors in different countries, as well as the appropriate ways to deal with each market’s investment climate.
For his part, Dr. Oganes spoke about the current economic situation and factors influencing the global investment market. He also emphasized the benefits enjoyed by the UAE as one of the most stable economies and prominent investment destinations. He attributed the country’s success to the various economic incentives, laws and regulations that protect all investors, whether locally based or from abroad.
Dr. Oganes further discussed investment opportunities within the global emerging markets and reviewed the countries hosting the investments of UAE companies as well as to what extent they are affected by political changes. He shed light on the best ways Emirati investors can avoid obstacles to their success and their ability to sustain growth, which attendees were very interested in.
The meeting also included an interactive session on major experiences and lessons learned from UAE investments abroad. The session was attended by H.E. Khalil Foulathi, Board Member of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and H.E. Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO of Etisalat. It was moderated by Sjoerd Leenart, CEO of JP Morgan in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.
H.E. Foulathi spoke on the importance of the UAE International Investors Council in supporting the national economy through the forging of strategic partnerships with various relevant parties inside and outside of the country. He also touched on the role of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in supporting UAE companies through its global experience as a sovereign investment fund.
H.E. Foulathi further advised UAE companies to inquire about their local partners in the countries they plan to invest in beforehand to prevent any problems that can arise due to the unique nature of each market.
His Excellency Eng. Saleh Al Abdooli also spoke about Etisalat’s experience in international markets, and the challenges it had previously faced in its Indian operations, which provided important lessons and a wealth of experience in how to deal with such challenges. Whilst not impacting on Etisalat’s vision for utilizing opportunities presented by the emerging markets and to maintain sustainable growth.
The establishment of the UAE International Investors Council forms part of broader efforts to advance economic diversification policies that complement the expansion and growth of the UAE’s private sector as well as create a favourable environment that supports national companies investing abroad. The Council provides a vital link between investors interested in promising opportunities available in countries with close ties to the UAE and governmental and semi-governmental entities to streamline the investment process. It also serves as a pillar for ensuring the protection of UAE capital abroad through advice, guidance, and logistic support.
Three ministries – the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the Ministry of Finance – are members of the UAE International Investors Council. Other constituents include the General Civil Aviation Authority and major semi-government and private investment companies (DP World, Etisalat, Etihad Airways, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), Emaar Properties, Mubadala Development, Borouge, Sharaf Group, Al Fahim Group, Majid Al Futtaim, Dubai Investment Company, and Thani Investment Group.)