Empowering women, youth, and other groups is a priority for the future of the country. The UAE Embassy in Serbia initiates and supports cooperation between UAE and Serbian entities to empower diverse groups in society
“The UAE is a country that has the vision to champion technology and innovation to become self-sustainable in many aspects, from environmental solutions, clean and renewable energy sources, smart cities, high technology solutions, healthcare, food production, water supply, and e-government, among others. Most UAE projects present in Serbia are large-scale, and their activities have not only had a positive impact on the Serbian market, but also on the regional economy”, said Mr. Ibrahim Al Darmaki, Head of Economic, Political and Media Affairs Section, Embassy of the UAE in Belgrade, for the special issue of the Diplomacy& Commerce magazine “In Focus: The UAE”.
The economic relations of our two countries are excellent. In which sectors can the two countries further improve their relations?
Considering the many investment projects that UAE companies have begun to develop in Serbia in less than a decade of intensive cooperation, the UAE and Serbia are compatible in many aspects. Besides the sectors in which we already successfully cooperate, such as agriculture, renewable energy, tourism, and transportation, many opportunities exist in the IT industry and in the use of artificial intelligence in health, education, transportation, telecommunications, agriculture, and food processing, among others.
How can the UAE increase its investments in Serbia and do Serbian companies have the potential to export and do business in your country?
Businesspeople on both sides have much to learn about the other’s market. It would be helpful for both sides to provide information on the economic environment and opportunities in the relevant markets to the other party. A constant presence and exchange of business delegations at different levels are of crucial importance.
“THE IMF PROJECTS THAT THE UAE ECONOMY WILL BE ABLE TO RECOVER BY 1.3 PERCENT BY 2021”
In this regard, the UAE Embassy supported the establishment of the UAE & Serbia Business Club to attract more investors from the UAE to Serbia and to bring Serbian companies to the UAE, providing reliable and secure channels for businesses from both countries.
Which companies from the UAE currently operate in Serbia and what are the positive aspects of both their operations and projects in Serbia in terms of boosting economic activity and quality of life in local communities?
Most UAE projects present in Serbia are large-scale, like Al Dahra and Elite Agro (Al Rawafed) in agriculture, Etihad Airways in the aviation industry, and DP World (Port of Novi Sad) in logistics. Their activities have not only had a positive impact on the Serbian market, but also on the regional economy. Some of them are local, like Belgrade Waterfront, a project of great importance for municipal development and inbound tourism. Another project of that nature is a factory in Raška Municipality, where a Serbian textile company established a production line. This factory was built through a donation
by the Khalifa Fund for Development. Projects of which we are especially proud are those with a positive impact on the environment and quality of life in Serbia, like Masdar’s Čibuk 1 wind farm project implemented by local company Tesla Wind, as well as a recently signed agreement between Metito Utilities Ltd with the City of Zrenjanin for a wastewater treatment plant. I would like to see additional projects of this type in the future.
What economic challenges is the UAE facing due to the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and what will the recovery from this crisis look like this year and next? What do you think will be the biggest challenges?
Recent reports by the International Monetary Fund project the real GDP of the UAE as -6.6 percent for 2020, citing the impact of low oil prices as one of the key reasons for the decline in the UAE economy. The UAE Government introduced several policies to boost the economy and moderate the impact of COVID-19, with stimulus measures worth approximately 18 percent of the GDP of the UAE.
“PROJECTS OF WHICH WE ARE ESPECIALLY PROUD ARE THOSE WITHA POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND QUALITY OF LIFE IN SERBIA”
With vaccine rollout underway, together with continued government stimulus and the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai in 2021, the UAE economy will experience significant recovery in 2021. In fact, the IMF projects that the UAE economy will be able to recover by 1.3 percent by 2021.
What is the economic strategy of the United Arab Emirates for the coming years and is there room and potential for Serbian companies as well?
The UAE is a country that has a vision to champion technology and innovation to become self-sustainable in many aspects, from environmental solutions, clean and renewable energy sources, smart cities, high technology solutions, healthcare, food production, water supply, and e-government, among others. I am confident that Serbia could offer creative ideas and projects to the Emirati market that can contribute to realizing this vision. Huge potential exists for Serbian businesspeople, inventors, and creative entrepreneurs.
How important is the empowerment of vulnerable groups in society, especially young people and women?
The UAE is a young nation that derives its strength from the skills, aspirations, and capabilities of its people. We cannot move forward on the path of development and prosperity without empowering all people and enabling them to contribute to the nation’s sustainable development drive. Empowering women, youth, and other groups is a priority for the future of the country. The UAE Embassy in Serbia initiates and supports cooperation between UAE and Serbian entities to empower diverse groups in society.
To what extent does sustainable business contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and protection of the environment and do we have such examples in Serbia?
The UAE has made significant progress in sustainable development since signing on to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals framework in 2015. The UAE Government understands that sustainability efforts are most effective when supported by the private sector. Open communication on priorities and challenges, as well as timely support for each other’s initiatives, are key to enabling continuous progress.
We have been witnessing advancement in Serbia in this area through UAE projects implemented in renewable energy, wastewater treatment, and smart buildings. These and many other sustainable projects in Serbia are proof that the country is moving forward on the path towards sustainable development.
Do you think that our two countries can improve their cooperation in the tourism sector and what can Belgrade and Serbia do to better position themselves as tourist destinations? Which projects should we focus on the most?
Serbia demonstrates significant potential in the tourism sector. The major appeals of your country include its cultural heritage and the hospitality of the Serbian people, as well as its geographic position and strong connections to all parts of the world.
People from the UAE enjoy traveling to Serbia, especially during the summertime. While they like to visit mountains, lakes, rivers, and other natural beauties visiting Belgrade, Novi Sad, and other cities’ attractions is also of notable interest. I humbly suggest that developing infrastructure projects in areas outside of Belgrade, including in the hospitality and entertainment industries, be prioritized. I also believe that Serbia’s offerings could be showcased in an international marketing campaign to bring awareness to all that your country has to offer to the world.