Agnes Lopez Cruz Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: France, which has already announced its participation in Dubai Expo 2020, is working to raise awareness among French companies on the importance of the event and the French pavilion, a senior official at the French Business Council said.

Agnes Lopez Cruz, managing Director of the French Business Council for Dubai and Northern Emirates, told Gulf News in an interview that work has already started last month to draw up a national plan.

An entity called cofrex, directed by Erik Linquier, will manage the French pavilion at Expo 2020. It has started to sensitise French companies on the event, the French Trade commission said.

Cofrex is talking to other concerned partners, including the “French Embassy, French Business Council (FBC) and the French Trade Commission — all are working together on a national plan to increase the awareness of French companies about the importance of Expo 2020 and what the French pavilion should be like,” Cruz said.

Last year, Paris announced its participation in the international exhibition, and during his visit to UAE last November, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Expo 2020 was the beginning of a new phase that will witness new projects and new perspectives. Macron reaffirmed his commitment to strengthening political and business ties between the two countries.

Also, a French company, Thales, was selected to the signalling on Dubai Metro’s Red line extension. Known as Route 2020, the 15km extension will link the World Expo 2020 site with the rest of the network.

Next month, a new business centre will open in Dubai Silicon Oasis, and it will work as an accelerator to assist French companies interested in working in UAE.

UAE, and particularly Dubai, has the largest French business community in the Middle East, and ranks 10th in the network of French Chambers of Commerce abroad. There are 120 chambers in 90 countries, said Agnes.

Last week, the French Business Council, which is sponsored by Dubai Chamber of Commerce, celebrated its 30th anniversary in UAE.

In Dubai and Northern Emirates, there are 800 members of the FBC representing 450 companies; French, international and local.

“The French companies are interested in coming to Dubai because it is a hub, but it is a place where expats can live, peacefully, security,” she said.

The French presence is Dubai is around 700 subsidiaries, while the UAE is the second largest market for France in the GCC after Saudi Arabia, Cruz said.

In figures, France exported 3.4 billion euros (Dh15.27 billion) to UAE in 2017. UAE imported from France represented 1.1 billion euro in 2017. The main French exports are consumer goods, equipment and transport equipment’s, while hydrocarbons constitute the main UAE exports to France.

As for the French Community in UAE, it is estimated around 30,000 people, nearly half of them are in Dubai, and they are working in different sectors, including energy, transport, pharmaceutical sector, food and beverages and technology.