March 1, 2017: H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, and Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp led the opening of a business forum on innovation and smart cities at the FME Association’s headquarters in The Hague. The forum took place to coincide with the visit of the UAE economic delegation, led by H.E. Al Mansoori, to the Netherlands to establish strong relations between the two countries.
On the sidelines of the forum, H.E. Al Mansoori attended a bilateral meeting with the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs in which both sides discussed the current status of their economic and trade relations as well as explored key opportunities to build ties across vital sectors, including energy technology, food, transport, and logistics.
The two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on innovation during the forum to put in place an effective mechanism to facilitate knowledge and technology exchange between their respective business communities, scientific research institutions, and government agencies.
The UAE delegation comprised H.E. Eng. Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs; H.E. Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and the Minister Adviser to the Tourism affairs; and H.E. Saeed Ali Al Nowais, UAE Ambassador to the Netherlands. Representatives of federal and local government agencies also joined the delegation. They included H.E. Khalifa bin Salem Al Mansouri, Acting Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi; Jamal Al Hai, Deputy CEO of Dubai Airports; Ahmad Obaid Al Tunaiji, Deputy Director General of the Department of Economic Development in Ras Al Khaimah; Dr. Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of Consumer Protection Department at Ministry of Economy; Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of AUS Enterprises in Sharjah; and high-ranking officials from the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Masdar, and the Netherlands Business Council in Dubai (NBC).
During his opening speech, H.E. Al Mansoori emphasised the vibrant economic and trade relations between the UAE and the Netherlands, as well as their shared interests in developing priority sectors as part of their respective economic development agendas. According to him, the foreign non-oil trade between the two countries amounted to about $3.8 billion by the end of 2015, and more than $2.7 billion during the first nine months of 2016.
The UAE Minister added that the next phase of their partnership will involve stronger economic relations in view of ongoing efforts to establish new cooperative mechanisms through exchange of expertise and experiences in the areas of innovation and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). H.E. Al Mansoori added that the UAE is looking forward to benefitting from the Netherlands’ wide experience in innovative science and modern technology. This will help the UAE create a knowledge- and technology-driven sectors, including renewable energy, food, transport, logistics services, health care, and smart cities.
H.E Al Mansoori pointed out that innovation is one of the key pillars of the UAE’s development vision with which the state has taken numerous initiatives to enhance its capabilities and potential, and establish supportive environment for innovation focusing on energy, transport, technology, health care, education, water and space.
H.E. also took the chance to share the UAE’s fundamental objectives, namely to be among the top 10 countries on the Global Innovation Index by 2021; increase the contribution of innovation to the gross domestic product (GDP) to 5 per cent from the current 3 per cent; and raise the share of scientific research development to the GDP to 1.5 per cent. H.E. Al Mansoori also outlined the country’s large-scale projects on transportation and space infrastructure.
For his part, Kamp underscored his country’s keenness to enhance its cooperation with the UAE, specifically in the mutually beneficial areas of innovation and advanced technology. He noted during his speech the UAE’s steady development, making the Arab state a destination of choice for investors.
H.E. also pointed out the Dutch companies’ high interest to enhance their presence in the UAE market.
The Dutch Minister further highlighted a number of promising collaborative opportunities in the areas of research and technology, specifically in terms of the development of innovative infrastructure in transportation and advanced industries. He said that the Netherlands is one of the world’s leading countries in these fields, adding that the latest MoU will enhance the cooperative framework in this regard.
H.E. Al Mansoori and Kamp signed the MOU at the end of the forum. The terms of the agreement include enhancing and exploring wider cooperation in innovation by encouraging, facilitating, and organising exchange of experiences; and forging partnerships between their respective government entities, business incubators and startups, academic and scientific institutions, and the private sector.
The top five priority sectors:
— Renewable energy and energy sustainability
— Innovation in the field of food and water
— Space and aviation
— Innovation in life science and health care
— Smart cities