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Spanish Companies Look Towards The UAE For Expansion Opportunities

Working breakfast with BSA Law Firm and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Madrid, January 25, 2019, The United Arab Emirates, an eminently oil country, has been implementing a policy of economic diversification for two decades, thus allowing other sectors to thrive. In this sense, Spanish companies have established themselves as reference investors in the country in sectors such as infrastructure, engineering, transport, renewable energy, tourism and finance. Likewise, the region has manifested a particular interest in attracting foreign investment from Spanish into the health sector.

This is one of the conclusions of the working breakfast "Spanish business in the United Arab Emirates: an opportunity to grow", which took place yesterday at the headquarters of Cofides, hosted by pioneering International Law Firm, Lupicinio, in partnership with renowned Middle East Law firm, BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP.

During the event, the speakers stressed that Spanish companies enjoy great prestige and an experience that is recognized throughout the Emirates region. Likewise, emphasis has been placed on the competitive advantage of Spain's roots in Latin America. "The Latin American countries have become a priority target for the Emirates. This is a great opportunity for Spanish companies, since they enjoy a privileged position and have the opportunity to establish themselves as the bridge between Latin America and the UAE ", explained José María Viñals, Partner and Director of International Operations of Lupicinio International Law Firm.

The Vice President of International Relations of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hassan Al Hasshemi, underlined Dubai's economic prospects and synergies with Spain: "Dubai shares many synergies with Madrid, as both cities are still chosen as main business hubs in their respective regions". The vice president has highlighted several recent measures adopted by Dubai, such as the inclusion of long-term residence visas, which have increased the city's appeal as a global business center.

Advantages and risks

Regarding the advantages that Emirates offer, Senior Partner, of BSA law firm, Dr. Ahmad Bin Hezeem, highlighted the UAE, which offers an unrivalled opportunity for growth for international businesses seeking to establish a presence in the Middle East. With Dubai at the forefront of economies offering secure business opportunities not only in the Middle East but globally. The UAE offers a diverse selection of business models and establishment options for businesses with, its numerous types of free zones, which are tax free and designed to simplify the process of business set up. Additionally the UAE has also taken steps to promote foreign direct investment onshore by allowing 100% foreign ownership of companies in certain sectors. All in all the time has never been more ripe for Spanish business to expand their operation to the UAE.

However, one of the disadvantages mentioned comes when establishing a company outside of these free zones. They require a local partner that contributes half of the capital of the firm. Among the main risks, the coordinator in the Middle East for Lupicinio International Law Firm, Eduardo Delage, has emphasized the socio-cultural differences: "The cultural gap that exists is greater than we expected. When it comes to doing business with local partners, you have to consider how to deal with the negotiations appropriately". Finally, both the Director of the Commercial and Development Area of Cofides, Ana Cebrián, as well as the Director of Country Risk and Debt Management of Cesce, Inés Menéndez, emphasized the stability of the market as one of the most attractive features.


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