Stock - Diplomat Business Club
Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, with Javed Malik, President of Diplomat Business Club (to his right) and Paras Shahdadpuri of Nikai Group. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Governments can create bilateral treaties, but it will still need businesses to make full use of the possibilities – that’s according to a former Pakistan diplomat.

“Whenever there’s a trade deal, the business community is the main beneficiary,” said Javed Malik, currently President of the Diplomat Business Club. “Whenever there is a trade relationship between the UAE or any other country, it always involves the business community. The governments can create policies, (but) It is the private sector that takes the trade forward.”

The Diplomat Business Club launched the ‘UAE Business Opportunities Forum’ to connect UAE’s international business community with the government. An event was held last week in Dubai to mark the occasion, with attendees including the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Trade, Thani Al Zeyoudi, and Fahad Al Gergawi, who is CEO of Dubai Investment Authority (FDI Dubai).

“We are focusing primarily on attracting investment and promoting trade - the 100 per cent ownership introduced in the UAE is directly going to benefit a lot of expatriate businessmen,” said Malik, who was Pakistan’s Ambassador to Bahrain from 2015-18. “All of this has been done in order to encourage investment into the UAE - what the forum does is to amplify that message throughout the community and create an opportunity for the business community to meet with decision-makers.”

Startup initiative

Malik and his organization have lots more planned in the coming months. There are plans to have a session where entrepreneurs can meet with potential investors and pitch their products and ideas.

“This is something that we want to do - for a new entrepreneur or somebody who wants to start a business, it's sometimes not very easy to meet investors,” said Malik. “We will have an entrepreneurs' group which will meet frequently.”

The initiative, which seeks to have some criteria in place for the startups, will focus mostly on tech-based businesses. It is necessary to move towards “smaller, digital businesses like Blockchain, crypto, 5G internet and cloud computing,” said Malik.

Expo plans

The forum will organize sector-specific interactive sessions in which business communities from various countries will take part and government officials will also be invited. “The credit goes to the government once again for having one of the best vaccination programs in the world,” said Malik. “I wouldn't say people have moved on from the pandemic, but they are a little bit more willing to engage than they were perhaps a year ago – the Expo has definitely played a positive role in that.”