Oslo: Crown Prince Haakon of Norway will visit the UAE Tuesday, heading a delegation comprising a number of ministers and a group of businessmen and investors.
Speaking to Gulf News in Oslo, Prince Haakon said he is looking forward to a fruitful visit to the UAE that he hoped would lead to the signing of long-term business agreements between the two countries, especially in the oil and gas industry.
According to the latest statistics from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, trade between the UAE and Norway reached $339 million (Dh1.2 billion) in 2009, up from $87 million in 2005.
Economic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Norway have grown steadily over the past five years, and this is reflected in the volume of trade and investment between the two countries. Prince Haakon's visit is expected to boost economic ties between the two countries.
Gulf News: This is your first official visit to the UAE. What is the purpose of the visit and what results can we expect?
Prince Haakon: Well I think that the UAE and Norway have a very good relationship, and we are hoping to build on that further with the visit of this delegation. There are many sectors of course; one is petroleum. But there are many businesses in the Emirates established by Norwegians. I believe there are 80 plus businesses that include shipping, paint, telecoms, mass communication, service sector etc. In all of these I think there is quite a lot we can build on, including renewable energy, which is a very popular topic in Norway right now. We have two topics for the seminars in Dubai. One is green shipping; cost effective solutions for maritime transport. In the shipping industry they are looking to make it more environmentally friendly. The other is solutions for the future in media and mobility. In Abu Dhabi, Norway is a technology partner in the maritime and petroleum sector.
With regard to petroleum, is there anything specific that your highness might be looking at, or any specific developments in the petroleum sector? Will there be any agreements made?
To be honest, I don't know whether there are going to be any agreements but hopefully there will be results and co-operation will increase. I know that Statoil is already present there and is hoping that more (companies from Norway will) do business in the UAE soon. Also, we have many other areas where I'm sure we can further build our relationship. We have quite a large business delegation accompanying us, with 80 plus business leaders. There are a lot of Norwegian companies that are showing a lot of keen interest. I think many see a lot of potential in a variety of sectors. In addition, it is very good to actually come to a country and visit personally and see how we can develop our bilateral relationship further as well.
Your highness will witness the signing of an agreement between DNV and the Municipality. What will this agreement be about?
I don't know the details of it yet, but the Trade Ministry will know about the details. DNV is a large Norwegian company that works both in the offshore petroleum sector and obviously with the shipping/maritime sector. There is plenty of opportunity there as well.
Your Highness, as Crown Prince of Norway you will be meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and other leaders. What is your feeling about relations with the leadership in Abu Dhabi, on a personal level as well?
I'm very much looking forward to meeting President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other representatives of Abu Dhabi and also Dubai. That is, I think, a very important part of developing our relationship to get to know each other a little bit better. I will also be bringing, in my delegation, the Minister of Trade and Industry, and the Minister of Petroleum and Energy. Also, the Deputy Minister of the Foreign Ministry will be accompanying me. I hope they will also have good meetings with their counterparts. That way we can learn more about each other and how we can co-operate further. We were also very happy to have the Crown Prince and Foreign Minister here last year. My Foreign Minister was there in January and it was very nice to have His Highness here for our National Day on May 17. We had dinner and I hope that we will be able to meet again now if his programme permits it.
Will there be any specific projects that will be discussed with the ruling family — possibly tourism, or social exchange programmes?
Well, business is the main focus of this visit private business and the business sector in general but obviously other parts of our co-operation will be touched upon. I think there is a good opportunity to look at other aspects. I know that there has been a lot of development when it comes to your educational system.