Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry expanded its global presence in promising markets with the opening of its third international representative office in the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan region.
The office, which will define investment opportunities in Kurdistan and assist Dubai Chamber members access markets in Central Asia, Turkey and the Middle East, was opened during a trade mission led by Dubai Chamber to Kurdistan from January 13-15.
It was officially opened by Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chamber, in the presence of Nawzad Hadi, Governor of Erbil, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Hamad Buamim, President & CEO, Dubai Chamber, Mohammed Rashid Al Mansouri, UAE Consul General in Erbil, and Mohammed Al Shehhi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy.
After cutting the ribbon, Al Ghurair said that the opening of the office in Erbil was evidence of the commitment of Dubai Chamber to enhance economic ties with Kurdistan. He said that the purpose of the office was to assist Dubai companies invest and do business in the Kurdistan region.
He said: “There are tremendous investment opportunities available in Kurdistan across various economic sectors, especially trade, reconstruction and the development of infrastructure, oil, tourism and industry. Through this representative office, Dubai Chamber can bring its members closer to these opportunities, while sharing Dubai’s expertise and knowledge with the business community in Kurdistan.”
In a speech during the opening ceremony, Dubai Chamber’s President and CEO stressed his organisation’s commitment to enhancing ties with the Kurdistan region.
Buamim said: “The office in Erbil provides added value for UAE companies and will help them access businesses opportunities in Kurdistan and connect them with local partners. The office will also support the presence of UAE companies in markets in Central Asia, Turkey and the Middle East."
He said the value of trade between the UAE and Iraq was estimated to have reached over $8 billion in 2012, the majority of which was with the Kurdistan region.
Iraq now ranks second behind Saudi Arabia as the largest market for Dubai Chamber members’ exports and re-exports in 2013. The Erbil office will seek to increase trade and also industry, agriculture, real estate and tourism, he said.
Buamim added: “This office opening is a key pillar of Dubai Chamber’s strategy to stimulate economic growth by promoting Dubai’s foreign trade and improving its competitive business environment. Dubai Chamber will continue with its international expansion throughout 2014 with a number of key markets targeted including China and India.”
In his speech, the Governor of Erbil confirmed that the new office will have a positive and significant impact on economic relations.
Hadi said that Erbil was aiming to take advantage of the expertise and experience of Dubai in several vital economic sectors. He expressed pride in Dubai Chamber choosing Erbil as the destination for its Kurdistan office.
He noted that several UAE companies are already present in Kurdistan and contributing to the development of the region and gave the commitment of the KRG to building strong bilateral ties between the two cities.
The office of Erbil is Dubai Chamber’s third international representative office. Last year the organisation opened its first office in Baku, Azerbaijan, followed by Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
During the trade mission an official dinner, held at the Rotana Hotel Erbil, was attended by a number of ministers and leading private sector representatives.
Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, KRG, stressing his government's keenness to strengthen bilateral relations with Dubai, calling it long-term strategic relationship
He said he welcomed the Dubai Chamber office and the presence of four airlines flying between the UAE and Kurdistan, which were a clear indication of the existing ties. He added that the KRG was committed to developing the region with priorities given to investment in agriculture, industry, tourism, construction, services, health and education.
Also present at the gala dinner were officials from the KRG, Abdul Karim Sultan Sinjari, Minister for the Interior, Ali Sindi, Minister of Planning and Qubad Talabani, Minister for Coordination & Follow-up, as well as Hadi, Governor of Erbil, and Dara Jalil Khayat, Chairman of the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce.
During the dinner, Al Mansouri, UAE Consul General in Erbil said that the launch of the Dubai Chamber office was a beginning to stronger bilateral cooperation between the two sides. He described Kurdistan as a promising investment destination and that the UAE business community was able to weave strong economic links with the region at various levels.
In his speech, Al Shehhi said that Dubai Chamber is a strategic partner of the UAE Ministry of Economy and that his participation in the trade mission was part of this agreement. He said that Dubai Chamber’s Erbil office will expand the horizon for UAE investors and contribute in attracting more investment to Dubai.
He said a number of steps could be taken to enhance bilateral relations including the easing of visa restrictions for UAE nationals and the twinning of the cities, Erbil and Dubai.