Oliver Oehms, CEO, German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce (AHK) Image Credit: Supplied

2023 has been another outstanding year for bilateral economic relations between the UAE and Germany. After the successful visits of the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and Vice Chancellor, Dr Robert Habeck last year, the UAE keeps on attracting German entrepreneurs and companies alike.

The proactive positioning of the UAE as a pro-business platform, supported by an extremely business-friendly regulatory environment, continues to draw investments. Indeed, the German business community has been growing steadily. What once was known as a place for selling German-quality investment and consumer goods turned now into a supra-regional hub for tech and innovation. And the ambitions of the UAE go even beyond. With a large number of free trade agreements being currently negotiated, the country positions itself as a globally connected place for doing business, including manufacturing. This is music to Germany’s ears, the global champion of advanced industrial technologies.

Key indicators already reflect a deep and substantial bilateral trade and investment partnership. While the current bilateral trade figures of close to $10 billion annually pinpoint the weight of the German-Emirati economic substance, the size of the German business community in the UAE indicates that it is much more than just about the exchange of goods. According to estimates of the German Emirati Joint Council for Industry and Commerce (AHK), the UAE is not only home to around 1,200 German companies operating on the ground, but also to some 25,000 German citizens enjoying the perks of living and working across seven Emirates.

This year, AHK celebrates its 25th anniversary. What once started with a small team of professionals is now the largest bilateral trade and investment promotion body in the Gulf. Steered by a bilateral honorary Board of Directors, AHK is currently operating across six countries with a team of around 35 professionals, stretching across six offices. Operating as a not-for-profit entity, AHK receives basic funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Still, it is mainly funded by its more than 600 corporate members, through cost-covering services, and from various inbound and outbound projects and activities.

In the case of the UAE, it is especially noteworthy how closely AHK cooperates with various UAE government entities, underlining the high degree of congruence of interests between the UAE leadership and the mission and vision of AHK.

As the UAE marks the Year of Sustainability in 2023, strong emphasis has been given to engaging in stakeholder discussions on various aspects of what the Germans call Nachhaltigkeit, such as renewable energy generation, energy efficient manufacturing technologies, digitalisation and inclusive business models.

With the Road to COP28, a dedicated series of events has been launched since the beginning of 2023. AHK was an early proponent in setting the scene for the conference itself. The climate conference at the end of the year will not only see an unprecedented number of high-level government officials, but also the participation of industry champions and leading German academia.

AHK has also been an implementing partner of the bilateral Energy and Climate Partnership between the two governments, represented by BMWK and the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure since its establishment in 2017. Many activities have been developed within the framework of this partnership and further successful developments are expected to be showcased. ■