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‘Room for India’s growth in UAE never stops, from investments to service sector’

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ReutersThere is a lot of pent-up demand in Dubai’s real estate market, says Rashed Al Habtoor.UAE has emerged as India’s premier strategic partner in the Gulf. With bilateral trade at US$ 60 billion, the India-UAE relationship is special, as seen in the surge of UAE investments in India, or in the number of Indian startups setting up in the Gulf nation and in the hiring of IT professionals from India. The room for growth never stops, Rashed Al Habtoor, CEO & President of Al Habtoor Trading Enterprises, one of UAE’s biggest entrepreneurs told ET’s Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury.

The robust flow of bilateral investments and an annual bilateral trade of about US$ 60 billion ensures that the UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner. Do you think that there is still space to grow? Which measures need to be taken?
The room for growth never stops, we can still work on improving and strengthening our trade relations by taking care of factors such as increasing transparency of existing regulations. Besides, capacity building would strongly help in gaining trust and facilitate trade partners to work more effectively by reducing procedural obstacles, and by supporting them to comply with regulatory requirements for increased work efficiency.

The UAE, in the coming years, is expected to make more investments in key sectors of the Indian economy. In the food sector, for instance, the UAE has already confirmed US$ 7 billion worth of investment. Could you please name few other areas where India can attract investments from the UAE?
With the recent initiative, ‘Operation 300 Billion’ launched by Sheikh Mohammed which focuses on boosting the UAE’s industrial sector, I believe this is a great opportunity for Indian talent to showcase their professionalism in the industrial sectors in the UAE. With relation to this, the field of construction will be in need of skilled labor to achieve the goals of ‘Operation 300 Billion’.

Many Indian entrepreneurs and start-ups wanting to set up their base and expand to other markets have invested in Dubai. Do you think that Dubai is a good base for tech companies from India? Why?
Dubai is fast becoming the new Silicon Valley for many Indian start-ups and tech companies, which have paved their way into the UAE market by offering ground-breaking solutions to both government organizations and private companies. The growing ties between India and the UAE, has led to the surge in hiring of IT professionals from India, and I believe they are capable enough to change the economic and technical landscape of the UAE.

Al Habtoor Trading Enterprises commits to develop, expand and create new opportunities for your partners. Could you please name few areas that you are interested in cooperation with Indian companies?
One of my ventures specializes purely in providing excellent business setup services in the UAE to potential business people from around the world. We guide them through all legal and regulatory processes in order to help them set up their businesses smoothly, and my highly trained team also assists with selection of the right services from the licensing processes to a number of other related services with unique benefits that will surely aid in the seamless set up or relocation of an existing business into the UAE.

Do you think that it is the right time now to invest in real estate in Dubai? What are your expectations from the real estate market in Dubai this year?
I have seen a pent up demand in Dubai’s real estate market from last summer, with buyers from around the world actively looking forward to capitalize on record low prices. I believe there has never been a better time to take advantage of the real estate market in the UAE than currently. Dubai’s foundation has always been strong with a very attractive and excellent infrastructure along with world class education and healthcare facilities, which makes Dubai one of the most preferred places to live.

Last year, the UAE and India come closer and collaborated more than ever before, despite the pandemic. What do you think makes India-UAE relations so special?
The India-UAE relationship has truly strengthened during the pandemic like never before, as both the countries worked tirelessly to ensure that both residents and expatriates were not left stranded amidst the pandemic by facilitating travel arrangements between the two countries. Both countries had also initiated bilateral cooperation in sectors such as food security and healthcare, which I believe are two of the most important areas to focus during a pandemic.


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