What do Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have in common from a business point of view?
Loïc Bertoli: The first thing that comes to mind is that both countries are regional hubs where companies, investors and entrepreneurs come to tap into not only the local, but also the regional market. Luxembourg is an excellent base for the EU market, and the UAE for the Gulf region, Africa and parts of Central Asia.
Both the UAE and Luxembourg are also working to diversify their economies and put a lot of effort into boosting sectors such as fintech, space, healthtech and cleantech – the latter is particularly important as the UAE seeks to decrease its environmental footprint and the impact of its oil and gas industry. This creates a lot of opportunities for foreign companies to do business with firms from the local ecosystems.
Both countries are regional hubs where companies, investors and entrepreneurs come to tap into not only the local, but also the regional market.
In addition, the two countries have a culture of welcoming and supporting start-ups and SMEs, which are important drivers of growth. Thanks to the good relationships that we have established with our Emirati counterparts, UAE start-ups that are ready to go international can have access to support programmes in Luxembourg and vice versa.
Luxembourg will be present at Expo 2020 Dubai with a pavilion entitled “Resourceful Luxembourg”. What do you hope that the country will achieve with this participation?
The aim of the Luxembourg pavilion is to highlight the wide range of business and cultural aspects that people abroad are often not aware about. Visitors will discover that Luxembourg is very diverse from a social, cultural, economic and financial point of view, that it is connecting people across the world, and is strongly committed to making its society and economy more sustainable. They will also see that it is enterprising with a government and other stakeholders fostering entrepreneurship and helping the economy to develop, and that it is astoundingly beautiful with very diverse landscapes, in spite of its small size.
While the Expo offers an excellent opportunity to showcase all of this to the world, the participation is not a goal in itself. It is part of a long-term strategy to strengthen the business links between Luxembourg, the Gulf region and the wider international community. Numerous official Luxembourg visits to Dubai have already taken place as part of the Expo preparations, and once the Expo is over, we will help business representatives and others to find out more about Luxembourg and visit the country. We estimate that we will have a window of more or less 18 months to benefit from the dynamic created by our participation at Expo 2020, and to make the best of all the initiatives that we will have launched to promote Luxembourg in the UAE.
What business-related topics will be featured during Luxembourg’s presence at Expo 2020 Dubai?
The Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, in close collaboration with the Ministry of the Economy and LTIO Abu Dhabi, is organising a programme of trade missions focused on ICT, space, sustainability, healthtech, and food and beverages. Each mission will take place in the context of a world-leading trade fair organised in the UAE: the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Arab Health and Gulfood. During these missions, companies from all over the world will be able to discover business opportunities in and with Luxembourg.
The “Made in Luxembourg” Week on 31 October – 6 November 2021 will put the products and knowhow of Luxembourg companies in the spotlight. The Matchmaking Fair on 23-25 January 2022 will help Luxembourg and European SMEs find international business partners, and expects over 500 participants. Those interested in discovering Luxembourg culture should not miss the Luxembourg day on 23 January 2022.
What is the role of your LTIO in all this?
Together with the team of Luxembourg’s embassy in Abu Dhabi, LTIO Abu Dhabi will play the role of local coordinators for all our trade missions and delegations during the Expo. Afterwards, our priority will be to support UAE companies that want to know more about Luxembourg as a business destination, and help Luxembourg companies follow up the contacts and potential partnerships initiated in this part of the world.
We are often the first point of entry for companies that want to explore Luxembourg as a potential European location. We can provide information and support that is well adapted to the local context here, and connect companies with the right organisations that can assist them with setting up a business in Luxembourg and get their activities going. Our objective is always to build long-term relationships with them and point them towards relevant opportunities. Often, they come to realise that they have an easier access to the European market via Luxembourg than via other EU countries.
We are often the first point of entry for companies that want to explore Luxembourg as a potential European location.
Over the decade that we have been present in the UAE, we have built an excellent contact network with institutional partners here, which means that we can also ease the way for Luxembourg companies who want to expand their activities to the Gulf region.
Is there anything in particular that surprises people in the UAE when you talk about Luxembourg?
My Emirati colleagues and friends love hearing about how lush and green Luxembourg is – they are even enthusiastic about the rain! Enjoying good food and eating together is an important part of the culture here, so they are impressed by the diverse choice of restaurants available and the number of restaurants awarded Michelin stars. Many of my international friends are also amazed to discover that Luxembourg produces excellent white and sparkling wine.
Photos: GIE LUX @ EXPO 2020 - Keller Fotografie; GIE LU @ EXPO 2020 Amir Maljai; LTIO Abu Dhabi