Dileep Nair, Consul-General of Singapore to the UAE Image Credit: MEGAN HIRONS MAHON/Gulf News

The GCC became Singapore's eighth largest trading partner in 2010 with bilateral trade touching $35.19 billion (Dh129 billion), an annual increase of 17 per cent. Trade between Singapore and the UAE rose 20 per cent to touch $11.21 billion, with exports to the UAE alone worth $4.2 billion.

As the lead government agency driving the Asian nation's external economy, International Enterprise Singapore (IE) helps Singaporean firms boost trade and explore business opportunities in the GCC through offices in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Ian Lee, Regional Director for Middle East and Africa at IE Singapore, says the country is keen on two key regional developments: diversification of economies from oil and gas revenues, and local developments to enhance quality of living.

In line with these, he says, "there will be wide-ranging needs in sectors including urban and industrial infrastructure, environmental services, transport and logistics, health care and info-comm technology. These are areas that Singapore-based companies have expertise in due to the experience gained through our own development. We hope to seek partnerships in these areas and complement the region's growth," he says.

Nor is Singapore short of attractions for the UAE's investors. Al Futtaim has invested in Robinson and Company (RCL), Borouge has established a South East Asia logistics hub in association with Singaporean firm CWT Logistics, and Advanced Technology Investment Co (ATIC) is investing in Singapore Chartered SemiCon's plants after acquiring the company in 2009. It is estimated that Abu Dhabi's foreign direct investment into Singapore was approximately$1 billion between 2007 and 2009.

"Singapore-based companies are good system integrators who design, customise and implement solutions according to the varied needs of customers. These can benefit Emirati enterprises, and they can tap into our unique advantages of competitive workforce, forward-looking economic policies, pro-business environment, international trade connections, financial expertise, worldwide sea and air links, sophisticated telecommunications network, and more," Lee points out.

Major investment sectors

The main areas of investment between the two countries are real estate, hotels and tourism, communications, plastics, and financial services.

Dileep Nair, Consul-General of Singapore to the UAE since 2005, sums it up succinctly: "Both Singapore and the UAE have certainly established a strong relationship based on trade and investment. This has been contributed to, in fairly large measure, by the hub positions of our two countries in our respective geographic regions. As our two countries emerge from the 2008 financial crisis, there is ample room for even greater cooperation and collaboration. We should work towards strengthening our hub-to-hub links and broaden the opportunities for working together in areas such as logistics, finance, hospitality and other new sectors. The potential for this in the immediate future is tremendous as both our countries move forward to achieve greater heights in our economic, social and cultural development."

At a glance

Area: 682.7 sq km

Population: 4.74m (July 2011 est.)

Capital: Singapore

Languages: Malay, Chinese (Mandarin), Tamil and English

Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD or S$)

Useful contacts:

• Embassyof Singapore T: 02 447 2002; E: singemb_auh@sgmfa.gov.sg

• Consulate-General of Singapore T: 04 321 9498; E: singcg_dxb@sgmfa.gov.sg; W: www.mfa.gov.sg/dubai/