Dubai hosts "Partnership to Invest in Future Syria" conference – updated

WAM Dubai, Nov 21st, 2012 (WAM)–Dr. Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, today highlighted the country’s commitment to supporting the Syrian people to help them overcome their current crisis.

He stated that the UAE has played a vital role in all the meetings of Syria Friends, which resulted in the creation of the Working Group on Rehabilitating and Re-building Syria’s Future.

Dr. Gargash made this announcement during a welcoming speech at the opening of the “Partnership to Invest in Future Syria,” a conference organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which kicked off its activity today to discuss opportunities in building the Syrian economy.

“We all realise that Syria’s future should be built on a strong, effective and productive economic platform. Achieving this vision requires a framework based on transparency, laws and modern, proven economic practices. The Syrian people have endured decades of suffering, and it is important to rehabilitate the country’s qualified generation in the world. Accordingly, the UAE will not spare any efforts in supporting Syria.” For his part, Sultan Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, said during his closing speech at the event: “The conference contributes to establishing a formula to support the Syrian economy. The real opportunity here is to enhance and unify the efforts by all parties, trying to build up on the plans based on the outcomes of this conference, aiming to develop the Syrian economy and achieve sustainability by setting up international economic partnerships.

In addition, he continued, the conference promotes investment opportunities in different sectors and contributes to developing partnerships between the public and private sectors.” Al Mansoori highlighted to attendees the UAE’s commitment towards using its diversified economic model to help rebuild the Syrian economy, sharing the country’s experience and exchanging expertise on ways to create investment opportunities and attract foreign investments. “These steps will contribute significantly to developing the Syrian economy aligned with the conference objectives”, he said.

During the conference, Al Mansoori also announced that several UAE national companies have expressed their interest in investing in Syria, including Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), Mubadala, Dubai Ports International, Masdar and Etisalat.

Speaking about the Arab Spring countries, Al Mansoori commented that among the Arab Spring countries, he is fully confident that the Syrian economy has the best chance of recovery due to its strong fundamentals and highly qualified workforce.

Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce ‘&’ Industry, emphasised during his speech the importance of a joint action formula that will contribute to the development of the Syrian economy and exploring economic partnerships which will help build the Syrian economy.

He noted that the conference also serves as a platform to provide information on various business opportunities and the development of cooperation between the public and private sectors.

“Dubai Chamber is playing an important role, acting as a liaison between the public and private sectors, which will enable this conference to achieve its objectives by helping build relationships between Syrian businessmen and entrepreneurs from around the world”, Al Ghurair pointed out.

The conference was attended by more than 500 regional and international businesspeople, entrepreneurs, policymakers and industry experts.

Hamad Buamim, Director General of Dubai Chamber, said: “The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry will employ all its experience in various economic and trade sectors to contribute to developing the Syrian economy.

“The Chamber will dedicate Dubai’s success story as a hub for investors and businessmen, which the Syrian business sector can benefit from. In addition, Dubai is ready to transfer knowledge on ways of attracting foreign investments,” he said.

Buamim commented on the important role of the private sector in building the future Syrian economy, stating that it plays a vital role in establishing the economy after the crisis is resolved. The private sector manages multiple logistics and knowledge qualifications and experience in building the main sectors, which will guarantee the rapid recovery of the Syrian economy and its transition to maturity and productivity stage.

The list of speakers at the conference included George Sabra, President of the Syrian National Council, who stressed the economic opportunities that will open up when the crisis ends in Syria. Sabra pointed out that it is important to shape an effective economic mechanism to develop the Syrian economy, which has faced significant challenges in the past that considerably weakened it.

The first session – “Economic Capacity Building: Challenges and Opportunities” -examined how Syrian economic capacity can be expanded, by enhancing local skills through knowledge transfer in sectors such as finance, trade and infrastructure. The discussion included a review of relevant best practices in the UAE and internationally.

A parallel session, “The Role of the Private Sector in Syrian Economic Recovery”, focused on how the private sector in Syria can be strengthened, drawing upon the experience of countries such as the UAE. During this session, participants discussed strategies to support public-private partnerships and increase foreign direct investment.

The third session of the day titled, “Sectoral Analysis: Building the Core Sectors of the Economy”. The discussion included a gap analysis of the current situation and future requirements, and highlighted opportunities to facilitate foreign investment through innovative models, such as the establishment of Special Economic Zones.

In parallel, the fourth session focused on: “Infrastructure Investment for Social Growth.” Participants in this discussion explored how infrastructure development projects can address social challenges, especially in areas such as housing, education and healthcare. In this regard, participants assessed the outlook for Syrian economic recovery in the context of the UAE’s successful infrastructure development model.

The conference concluded its activities through a TV debate session on “Syria Future Economy” on Sky News Arabia TV. The session was managed by Yusuf Serif and speakers included Khalid Ghanim Al Gaith, Assistant Minister of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hisham Abdullah Al Shirawi, Chairman of Economic Zones World, and Dr. Osama Kadi, General Coordinator, Syrian Economic Task Force, Samir Seifan, General Director at Advanced Developing Consultants, and Mr. Samir Altaqi General Director at Orient Research Centre.