Nicos Anastasiades,President of the Republic of Cyprus giving his speech during the UAE Cyprus Business Forum at Grand Hyatt. Image Credit: ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/Gulf News

Dubai: Nicos Anastasiades, president of the Republic of Cyprus, said that business relations between UAE and Cyprus are based on solid foundations and called for a boost to economic ties between the two countries.

During his visit to the UAE last week, the president spoke at the UAE-Cyprus Business Forum on Wednesday, an event hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the Cyprus Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Cyprus has enormous opportunities for investments in the energy sector, Anastasiades said. There are plenty of openings for investments in real estate, health and rehabilitation centres, shipping, technology, innovation and in large tourist investment projects such as marinas, golf courses, thematic parks and other tourist developments.

The recent discovery of natural gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone opens up new opportunities for investments as well, the president said.

The UAE and Cyprus also have a treaty in place to avoid double taxation, he added.

According to the Dubai Chamber, Dubai’s total non-oil trade with the Cyprus increased by 35 per cent at a value of Dh100 million between 2011 and 2012.

Anastasiades said that Cyprus was succeeding in easing investment procedures. The country is currently implementing a series of measures aimed at reducing bureaucracy and making it easier to do business by overhauling the procedure for permits and licensing projects. The President said that the country is praised by the European Union as a model for economic recovery.

Unsecured deposits

In 2012, Cyprus was hit by the Eurozone financial crisis, causing the government to seek €1.8 billion (Dh9.1 bilion) of foreign aid. On 25 March 2013, following a €10 billion international bailout, the government agreed split the country’s second largest bank, the Cyprus Popular Bank, imposing a significant haircut on uninsured deposits, a large proportion of which were held by wealthy Russians who used Cyprus as a tax haven. The decision was announced by Anastasiades, who had become the country’s president only one month before.

On the sidelines of the forum, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Minister for Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, said that the investment market in Cyprus has a lot of incentives for serious investors.

“Foreign investors can get permanent residency in Cyprus if they have an investment worth a minimum of €300,000,” he added.

Lakkotrypis said that Cyprus has signed four agreements with the UAE to improve relations between the two countries across several business sectors, including energy, tourism, technology and transportation.

One of these agreements is related to the aviation sector and it aims to increase the weekly flights between UAE and Cyprus by 100 per cent from seven to 14 flights with an average of two flights per day.

In his welcome address, Hesham Al Shirawi, Second Vice Chairman of Dubai Chamber, said that Dubai and Cyprus have a lot of similarities, especially in the area of tourism and urged Cyprus businesses to benefit from Dubai’s strategic location to reach out to their trading partners in the region.

“We see potential to develop future synergies based on our shared experience and existing close connections,” he said.

Safe and stable base

Highlighting Dubai’s status of a vibrant business destination, Al Shirawi said that the emirate is open to foreign investment and provides a safe and stable base in the high-growth Middle East market while serving as a potential gateway to major consumer markets in Asia and Africa.

“It has a growing and diversified economy which will directly benefit Cypriot companies to reach out to over two billion consumers in the region,” he said.

According to the latest statistics from the Dubai Chamber, there are 40 Cypriot member companies registered with Dubai Chamber, and are engaged in trading, engineering, services and contracting.