The political and economic ties between Seychelles and the UAE are excellent. A measure of the movement of people between two countries is a good indicator of the health of these relationships. In the case of the UAE and Seychelles, the UAE is in the top 5 of our source countries for tourism arrivals, which underlines the strength of this relationship. Likewise, our statistics show that the UAE is the most visited destination by residents of the Seychelles.
UAE nationals are also large investors in the Seychelles economy. With tourism being the lifeline of our economy, Emirates airline is the largest carrier of tourists to our shores, and the UAE’s national airline, Etihad Airways, is a shareholder in our national airline, Air Seychelles. The list is long, and while I have only covered a few highlights, the underlying message is that there are very good and very strong ties between our two countries.
This is the second time that I am attending this forum. My first visit in 2017 was fruitful, and I look forward to the 2019 edition. Seychelles is doing very well at a macro level, but we are a small country. We aspire to grow and develop further. We have a lot to learn from our partners on the continent — which this forum facilitates. And for those who think they might be able to learn from us, we are happy to help.
The forum is also an important opportunity to push our global agenda — the urgent need for climate action. Despite being the least responsible, we are most vulnerable to the effects of a climate breakdown. The health of our oceans and our planet is crucial to our survival — the survival of humanity. This is a global problem and requires a global solution.
We are a stable country with a well-educated population. In addition to being a member of the World Trade Organisation, Seychelles is also signatory to the African Free Trade Area, which provides a market of over 1 billion people. Investors and businesses in Seychelles would therefore enjoy access to this emerging market.
Ready for investors
Seychelles may have a very small population, but it is an open economy, which welcomes foreign investment. We have an exclusive economic zone of 1.374 million square kilometres, which is larger than the land area of South Africa, and is largely untapped. We are largely import dependent and have very little exports of goods — translating to a large number of containers leaving Port Victoria empty and aeroplanes taking off with spare cargo-carrying capacity.
We are a stable country with a well-educated population. In addition to being a member of the World Trade Organisation, Seychelles is also signatory to the African Free Trade Area, which provides a market of over 1 billion people.
Investors and businesses in Seychelles would therefore enjoy access to this emerging market.
Potential to increase trade
In 2018/2019, the Seychelles Investment Board processed a total of $204 million by UAE investors and these are mainly in tourism, entertainment and real estate sectors.
Seychelles’ import of goods from the UAE amounts to between 24 to 29 per cent of our total imports, which is significant. On the other hand, Seychelles’ exports to the UAE only accounts for between 0.005 to 0.14 per cent of our total exports.
Seychelles also welcomes about 28,000 UAE visitors to Seychelles annually and this accounts for about 8 per cent of the total visitor arrivals to the country.
Hosting Dubai Chamber’s office in Seychelles would be mutually beneficial. It will facilitate the exploration of markets for imports —today we have numerous SMEs going to Dubai to meet traders.
Dubai Chamber’s presence in Seychelles will allow them to start exploring for lower costs and reduce the risk of doing business with disreputable companies, since Dubai Chamber will only present the contacts of companies in good-standing.