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Businesses and government leaders from the EU and the GCC came together at the 5th EU-GCC Business Forum that focused on how to drive the post-pandemic recovery in the two regions toward a green and digital transition. The event took place at Expo 2020, Dubai on Oct. 23, with panel discussions that covered different topics as part of the theme, “Accelerating GCC Economic Diversification after the Crisis — The Way Forward.”


“Our well-established EU-GCC cooperation provides the right framework to advance together toward a sustainable economic model. As we move on, we should learn lessons from the pandemic and use the opportunity to do things better,” said Margaritas Schinas, vice president of the EU.


The forum involved sessions that covered topics such as Enhancing EU-GCC Trade and Investment, Innovation and Economic Acceleration, and Trade and Investment Opportunities in the GCC.


“The possibilities are huge for more EU-GCC economic cooperation, trade and investment in an increasingly green and digitized global economy. We should tap on the full potential of this emerging new dimension of cooperation between our regions. I am sure that today’s impressive EU-GCC Business Forum will contribute to this objective in a significant and tangible way,” said Stefan Schleuning, head of unit, FPI.4-Industrial Countries and Foreign Policy Support.


Session 1 covered “Enhancing EU-GCC Trade and Investment Opportunities” that highlighted the importance of innovation labs for women to prepare them for highly paid roles with extraordinary skills, eliminate gender and social gaps, in addition to promoting business opportunities arising from the transition.


In Session 2, speakers covered “Innovation and Economic Acceleration,” including the EU space program, which provides full access to data collected free of charge for the benefit of the world as a whole; water scarcity, which is a big challenge for the region; and the efforts that are being made to reduce food waste and increase energy from food waste.


Session 3 included presentations from six GCC countries. Some of the interesting points that were covered by the UAE speaker included:


• The UAE had advanced nine ranks in the inflow of foreign investment in 2020, to 15th globally, with a growth rate of 11.2 percent.


• The UAE advanced six ranks globally in the outflow of foreign investment in 2020, to rank 13th globally.


• The UAE’s Golden Visa is available in the UAE for international investors and top talent from around the world, providing them with visas for up to 10 years.


• The UAE’s investment environment is marked by stability, modern infrastructure, effective economic policy, and modern economic legislations.


The EU-GCC Dialogue on Economic Diversification is a project funded by the European Commission Service for Foreign Policy Instruments. The project contributes to stronger EU-GCC relations by supporting the GCC countries in the ongoing process of economic diversification away from hydrocarbon dependent sectors.

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