The UAE and Germany have a second-to-none mutual partnership based on trust and respect. They have signed air transport, double taxation and investment agreements while foreign direct investment from the UAE to Germany has increased over the years — from €419 million (about
Dh2 billion) in 2008 to €930 million in 2009 and €1.02 billion last year.
The German Near and Middle East Association (Numov) promotes relations between the two countries. GN Focus interviews the association’s honorary chairman, Dr Gerhard Schröder, also former Chancellor of Germany.
What were your first impressions of the UAE?
I travelled to the UAE in October 2003 as Federal Chancellor and my first impressions were of an advanced, modern and forward-thinking country. Following successful bilateral discussions, a bilateral agreement was signed between Germany and the UAE. Since then, UAE-German relations have gone from strength to strength and strategic partnerships have developed into real friendships.
What are the most urgent areas of development in which Germany can assist the UAE?
The UAE is currently home to one of the largest project markets in the Middle East and Africa. However, although levels of German investment are promising, German businesses and investors should still be encouraged to engage more in the UAE, a dynamic growth market with many varied opportunities, including infrastructure development.
Reciprocally, Germany, as a world leader in engineering, industry and technology, offers many excellent opportunities for UAE investors and the continued exchange of technological know-how is exciting. Organisations such as Numov help businesses identify potential economic opportunities.
How do your members engage with UAE nationals?
The promotion of bilateral exchange lies at the very heart of the efforts of Numov and cultural cooperation is an important part of this. We regularly organise events, seminars and instruction on the Arabic language as we believe mutual cultural understanding and open dialogue are paramount to effective partnerships.
What future challenges do you see for the UAE?
The main short-term challenges for the UAE include economic diversification, continued infrastructure development and securing energy supply. The UAE has a vision to become an advanced, knowledge-based economy and is well on the way to achieving its goals. Many challenges still lie ahead and I believe that close German-UAE cooperation can play a major role in overcoming these challenges.