Dubai – MENA Herald: Dubai’s growing ties with Portugal and opportunities for further co-operation were explained to businessmen, industrialists and investors in the Portuguese cities of Lisbon, Aveiro and Porto by the Dubai Investment Development agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) during a business trip recently.

Organised as part of Dubai FDI’s investor outreach, particularly to industries and services capable of adding value to Dubai’s knowledge economy initiative, the business trip was supported by the Embassy of Portugal in Abu Dhabi as well as the Portugal Global – Trade & Investment Agency (AICEP) and the Industrial Association of the District of Aveiro (AIDA).

“Dubai being an efficient gateway to strategic markets across the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent and Portugal as one of the best-performing economies in Europe have unprecedented opportunities for closer collaboration,” commented Khalid Al Boom, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Dubai FDI, who led the Portugal mission.

Al Boom added that Portugal being home to world-leading companies and its growing bilateral trade with the UAE are positive indicators for Dubai’s knowledge economy drive. “Trade between the UAE and Portugal over the first five months of this year was valued at AED 228.5 million, a 9.8% increase from the AED 208 million recorded in the same period of 2014.”

In recent years, Portugal has witnessed an economic recovery, reflected in a GDP growth of second quarter of 1.5% in 2015 and a sharp drop in inflation from 11.2% of GDP in 2010 to 4.8% in 2014. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) external demand is expected to further strengthen the trend in 2015.

“We had earlier visited Portugal and met with investors in September 2014 and this time we could clearly sense investors are increasingly interested in Dubai and its prospects. We conveyed the message that Dubai’s economy and the initiatives being launched by the leadership with emphasis on innovation, connectivity and diversification have opened up infinite opportunities for the global private sector,” added Al Boom.

The Dubai FDI delegation hosted seminars in the three Portuguese cities, which was followed by B2B meetings, supported by AIDA in Aveiro, AICEP in Porto and in Lisbon.

“Dubai and Portugal are coming closer than ever in many ways. Emirates started direct flights to Lisbon in 2012 and starting January 2016, it will be upgraded to twice-daily. According to Emirates customer demand on the route has grown by 15 per cent year, which shows the strong potential for trade and tourism for both sides,” commented Ibrahim Ahli, Director of Investment Promotion Department at Dubai FDI.

Ahli added that Dubai’s focus on competitiveness and innovation together with Portugal’s capabilities in the industrial, agriculture and tourism sectors can create a win-win partnership. “We had productive interactions with investors in the three Portuguese cities, during which we presented ongoing initiatives in Dubai as well as preparations for the Expo 2020, with emphasis on the opportunities for infrastructure development and service expertise,” he concluded.