April 30, 2014

This year’s German Industry Day (GID) successfully ended on Tuesday at the Etihad Towers Hotel in Abu Dhabi, bringing together key business leaders from the GCC region with German industry players from various industry sectors, including renewable energy, water treatment technologies, pharmaceuticals and food production.

For the 6th consecutive year, the GID was hosted by the FCF Fox Corporate Finance GmbH (FCF) in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), and Deutsche Boerse Group.

“The German Industry Day provides a valuable forum to share knowledge and expand the business network between the UAE and Germany – a network that has been growing for decades”, said Mohammed Omar Abdulla, Undersecretary, ADDED, in his welcome speech.

“While Germany has been Europe’s economic engine for many years, the UAE is experiencing its second successful level of industrialization with a current GDP (2013) of AED 953 billion. We are looking forward to continue our strong economic bond with Germany. When two economic powers work together the opportunities are endless.”

Engineer Khaled Salmeen, CEO, Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), added: “Germany is the UAE’s largest trade partner in Europe. Last year, Abu Dhabi alone imported approximately 6.4 billion dirhams worth of goods from Germany, more than any other country in the European Union.”

Mr. Salmeen continued: “The UAE respects and acknowledges the quality products, technological advancements and innovative spirit coming out of Germany”. He further highlighted economic stability, strategic geographic location, full government support and the protection of investors considering making the UAE their second industrial home as advantages for German investors to consider. 

More than 1000 German companies are currently registered in the UAE. As Kizad and its adjacent Khalifa Port are vastly developing into one of the largest industrial zones in the GCC region, both represent a significant platform for further foreign investment.

Since Kizad’s launch of commercial operations in 2010, national and international investors have leased more than nine million square metres of land in the industrial zone which represents an investment of more than thirteen billion US dollars.

What draws these investors to Kizad is not only its strategic location at the crossroads between the east and west with market access to more than 4.5 billion people within four time zones, but also its excellent intermodal connectivity, its highly competitive operating costs and an ease of doing business climate with fast documentation and approval processes.

“It is important for us to operate in a very competitive environment”, said Kai Uwe Buerger, Managing Director UAE, Triton Water AG, a leading provider of water treatment technologies. The small to medium enterprise (SME) has 80 employees and already left its footprint in the UAE by installing the desalination plant for Emirates Aluminium (EMAL), one of the world’s largest single-site aluminium smelters and Kizad’s anchor tenant in the aluminium cluster.

Alongside its offices in Germany, Australia, Denmark, Singapore and Dubai, Triton Water AG is now planning to open an office in Abu Dhabi to expand its business which mainly focusses on the oil, gas and energy as well as food and beverage sector.

“It’s the right combination of big organizations with SMEs that plays a major part in the success story of the German economy”, said keynote speaker Joschka Fischer, former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany. Besides highlighting the importance of SMEs, Mr. Fisher also underlined the importance of “green” business policies that are no longer a contradiction to healthy, flourishing industries.

In line with Mr. Fisher’s “green” business approach was the presentation of Dr. Bernd Koehler, CEO, Phoenix Solar AG, a leading international photovoltaic systems integrator. “Since the utility costs, including energy, in the UAE are comparably low, investing in solar energy in this region is a more or less strategic decision that will not pay off immediately, but in the far future”, said Mr. Koehler.

Phoenix Solar AG, which has 120 employees, operates in two main business segments: Solar power plant engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), as well as operations and maintenance. In addition, the company is establishing a new residential installation business for small scale standardized rooftop photovoltaic systems.

With operations in Saudi Arabia and Oman, Phoenix Solar AG is seeking out other business opportunities in the Middle East, particularly in the UAE. “We are looking for partners that can support and help us to establish our products and services in the MENA region”, Mr. Koehler explained.

Other German companies at the GID included Muehlhan AG, a leading global provider of surface protection services, UB Composited GmbH, a supplier of composite carbon, light-weight structures for the racing, automotive,.aviation and medical industries, Sanochemia Pharmazeutika AG, a specialty pharmaceuticals company, and Catana GmbH which is positioned to become a leading industry player in onshore seafood production. 

“In a world of a growing number of globalized economies, the governments, manufacturers and service providers need to practice a globalized thinking. The miracle of the European Union is a well-balanced combination of cooperation and integration – a business model that leads to a win-win situation for any globalized economy in the world”, Mr. Fisher concluded.