Dubai – MENA Herald: A Dubai Government delegation, led by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) has concluded a successful tour of three prominent cities in Canada in a bid to explore commercial and investment partnerships for promoting sustainable and innovation-driven economic development.

The delegation comprising officials from Jafza, Dubai South, Tecom Group, Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Emirates, and Emirates SkyCargo, toured the cities of Edmonton and Calgary (both in the province of Alberta) and Vancouver in British Columbia, during their 10-day mission, put together with the support of the Canada-UAE Business Council.

Members of the delegation held various rounds of fruitful dialogue with people leading innovative public and private sector initiatives across varied industries such as smart technologies, entertainment, logistics, transportation, export facilitation, agri-business, research and development (R&D), and sustainability in the three Canadian cities.

Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO of Dubai FDI said the emphasis on creativity and sustainability in the Dubai Plan 2021 makes it all the more important for the emirate to engage closely with investors and institutions in countries like Canada, known for their expertise and focus on innovations.

“UAE- Canada relations remain remarkably strong, and have been expanding into new and emerging sectors. Between 2014 and 2015, bilateral trade rose from around 5.4 billion dirhams to more than six billion dirhams and for Canada, the UAE is their fourth largest export market in the world and the largest in the whole Middle East and North Africa region,” said Al Gergawi.

Al Gergawi added that the mission was successful in updating Canadian businesses on the added value Dubai can provide as a source market and supply chain hub. “Dubai’s manufacturing and distribution infrastructure and connectivity provide Canadian industries a unique opportunity to build on their home-grown expertise and expand it into new markets. The mission enabled us understand the requirements of diverse industrial sectors in Canada in terms of sourcing and exporting products and services.”

The UAE investments in Canada, estimated at 85 billion dirhams (30 billion Canadian dollars) and distributed across major projects such as the DP World-owned marine terminals in British Columbia, TAQA North and the IPIC-owned Nova Chemicals, provide a significant number of jobs in Canada. Meanwhile, over 150 Canadian companies have based their regional operations in the UAE, which is also home to more than 45,000 Canadian citizens.

“We had visited Calgary along with Toronto and Montreal in 2015, and the experience gained then helped us make a stronger pitch for Canadian investments in Dubai this time. It was a highly productive mission in terms of knowing each other and introducing Dubai as the most efficient link to a consumer market of over 2.2 billion people spread across the Middle East, North Africa, CIS, and the Indian Subcontinent,” added Ibrahim Ahli, Director of Investment Promotion, Dubai FDI.

A ‘Showcase Dubai Forum’ organised in co-operation with the Government of Alberta and Edmonton Economic Development marked the start of the Dubai delegation’s programmes in Edmonton, a predominantly agricultural region which is now a an emerging entrepreneurial and technology hub.

The delegation toured TEC Edmonton and Alberta Agri-Value Incubator, leading business incubators promoting innovation, and Start-up Edmonton, a complete growth ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs, to learn about Canadian experiences in new enterprise development.

State-of-the-art technology was the main theme across all the networking sessions and meetings in Edmonton, which saw the delegation visiting the University of Alberta, one of the top 100 research universities in the world, as well as the E-hub at the National Institute of Nanotechnology, in addition to the ICE District development and Stantec, a global engineering services firm based in Edmonton.

Innovations in transportation and logistics as well as oil and gas dominated the discussions in Calgary. The delegation visited the GE Customer Innovation Centre, Canada Beef Centre of Excellence, the distribution centre of Home Depot, which is the world’s largest home improvement specialty centre, and District Ventures, Canada’s first accelerator for packaged goods. The delegation was supported by the Calgary Economic Development and met with the deputy mayor of Calgary.

The delegation met with representatives from various industries and associations in Calgary, such as Calgary Regional Partnership, Petroleum Services Association of Canada, Venture Capital Association of Alberta, ATB Financial, Innovate Calgary, Calgary Airport Authority, and Calgary Stampede over a Hub & Spoke Roundtable, aimed at creating reciprocal export hubs for the Middle East and North America.

In Vancouver, one of the largest industrial centres in Canada with an ethnically and linguistically diverse population, the Dubai delegation met with leading innovators in the digital technology, sustainability, communication, leisure and entertainment sectors, with the support of the Vancouver Economic Development. The delegation was briefed on Vancouver’s Green Economy and its Greenest City Action as well as 100% Renewable Energy Strategy.

“The well organized and intensive sessions with the relevant provisional government and businesses have proved that there is tremendous potential for Dubai, not only for exploiting the phenomenal business opportunities presented to us, but also to learn from Canadian businesses in the fields of Innovation, Research and Development and the development of Small and Medium Enterprises, “said Asim Al Abbasi, Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Chief Financial Officer, Economic Zones World.

Al Abbasi added: “This mission was the right step in attracting Canadian businesses to Dubai, especially targeting foodstuff, livestock and agricultural enterprises. I would like to commend Dubai FDI for enhancing the efforts in targeting Canada as an important global market, and raising Dubai’s profile as the gateway to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region to develop mutually beneficial business development partnerships”.

Khadija Turki of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: ‘’Dubai Tourism’s participation as part of the government mission in Canada helped push a common position on Dubai as an attractive investment hub, providing entrepreneurs and business groups a holistic perspective of Dubai’s diverse offerings and vast potential. The roadshow in Canada also helped put the spotlight on Dubai as a leading family tourism destination, while giving us the opportunity to showcase it as one of the fastest growing cities in the world that takes immense pride in its cosmopolitan character and vibrant yet safe environment.”

“As the emirate’s leading urban project, Dubai South is happy to have met with several business leaders in Canada. Dubai South’s business-friendly ecosystem and our unrivalled multimodal logistics dimension – which includes the Al Maktoum International Airport, the world’s largest airport in the making – is only one part of the value-add we can offer Canadian companies as they access the emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. This visit marks the start of our engagement with our Canadian peers, especially in the engineering, R&D, IT, energy, and agriculture sectors,” said Edward Batten, Senior Manager – Business Development in Dubai South.

Visits to the UBC Centre for Integrated Research on Sustainability – an accelerator of sustainable building and urban development practices; Moovee Innovations – urban traffic technology solutions provider; Electronic Arts – Canada’s largest studio; General Fusion – global leader in fusion power solutions; Digital Domain – Visual Effects and Animation Studio, and Wavefront Wireless Innovation, a national centre of excellence were the key points in the delegation’s Vancouver itinerary. A roundtable was also hosted by Dubai FDI in partnership with Vancouver Economic Development.