UAE Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi led a 40-person delegation, representing public and private sectors, to the Kurdistan Region last week in an effort to promote trade.
The visit was a follow-up to Prime Minister Barham Saleh’s February trip to the UAE in which the importance of strengthening bilateral ties and UAE assistance to Kurdish businessmen were discussed. For its part, the UAE has been receptive to trade discussions and supports investment and economic collaboration with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, specifically.
The UAE intends to double investment in the Kurdistan Region to $6 billion in the next three years, particularly in the power sector. Dana Gas currently operates in the Kurdistan Region and aims to increase production to 200 million standard cubic feet per day by the end of this year. Abu Dhabi’s national energy company Taga is also considering investment.
Already, the UAE has seized opportunities in the Kurdistan Region’s up-and-coming travel industry. Etihad Airlines will begin flights next month into Erbil International Airport’s new terminal, where Abu Dhabi-based Dnata has signed on as ground handler. Flydubai and Air Arabia have also shown interest in expanding their services to the Region.
Additionally, in September Abu Dhabi-based Rotana Hotels will open a five-star hotel in Erbil, and next year Millennium and Copthorne Middle East Holdings will open two hotels in Sulaimaniyah, with plans for more in Erbil. Even retail giant Emke Group, also based in Abu Dhabi, is considering opening shops in the area.
Our region sees value in promoting trade with foreign countries and has taken steps to facilitate opportunities with incentives and legal guarantees to protect investment. A continued partnership between the UAE and the Kurdistan Region will play an important role in contributing to the diversifying market of the Kurdistan Region while also benefiting the UAE economy.