JOHANNESBURG - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed its commitment to injecting billions of dollars in the South African economy and solidify its place as the country's largest trading partner in the Arab world.
This as the two countries held their annual SA-UAE Business Forum, this year in Johannesburg, in order to provide UAE-based companies with the knowledge and contacts necessary to do business in South Africa.
The UAE is South Africa's largest trading partner in the Arab world for non-oil commodities and accounts for 50 percent of the total non-oil foreign trade between the Arab countries and South Africa, amounting to about U.S.$3 billion.
During President Cyril Ramaphosa's visit to the UAE in July last year, the country announced a U.S.$10 billion investment in infrastructure and enterprise growth within the South African economy over the next few years.
Delivering the keynote adress at the business forum, Undersecretary for UAE Ministry of Economics, His Excellency Abdulla Al Saleh, said they were happy to participate in the South African economy and that they used the forum as a platform to connect with the SA business community and strengthen bilateral economic relations between the two countries.
Al Saleh said that the UAE and South Africa enjoyed "excellent relationship" at government-to-government level, and were looking at extending such relations to the business community of the two countries.
"Africa is growing very fast in different sectors, especially infrastructure projects in southern Africa and South Africa is the network and the most advanced economy in the continent. With the hub of our trade and investment here, we would like to commit ourselves as a hub in the Arab region with a hub here in Africa for opportunities that exist in South Africa," Al Saleh said.
"I would like to mention at this moment a commit by the UAE governement to invest and to finance projects here in South Africa to the amount of $10 billion, and that was announced last year during the visit of the president of South Africa to UAE. And I'm sure in the coming years you will see a lot of projects that we have invested in."
UAE Ambassador to Pretoria, Mahash Al Hameli, said that the business forum was a significant milestone between the two countries as it marks 25 years since the beginning of diplomatic relations.
Mohammed Hamdan Al Zaabi, the director of the trade promotion department in the UAE Ministry of Economy, invited South African companies to explore the Arab world, saying that the UAE had a diversified economy in which local companies can invest.
Al Zaabi mentioned trade and investment attractions such as the "free zone and main land" initiative, which he said has made it tremendously easy for businesses to start making an impact within the UAE, adding that there was transparency and innovation in the business environment in the Middle East.
As Dubai will be hosting Expo2020 next year, Al Zaabi extended an invitation to South African companies to participate in the world's biggest business exhibition, explaining that Dubai has built an entire new city to host this event.
He said that joining the mission will offer SA exporters a perfect networking opportunity with UAE officials and investors and will provide them with the key contacts and information to establish a business in the Emirates.