The United Arab Emirates, which is the largest foreign direct investor in Sri Lanka among Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, is planning to undertake large scale investments in Sri Lanka.
The newly-appointed Ambassador for the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka Abdul Hamid Abdul Fattah K. Al Mulla has said that Sri Lanka’s security and stability is attractive for UAE private investors and they are keen to expand their investment profile in Sri Lanka beyond the current levels.
The Ambassador has told the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen that his country is very keen to sign a Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) with Sri Lanka. The Ambassador is initially looking at investing in port development, port management, and tourism infrastructure development in Sri Lanka.
Al Mulla has made these comments when he made a courtesy call on the Minister on Monday. He has said that there are 58 flights a week originating from Dubai to Colombo by UAE-based carriers Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Emirates, and Etihad, and since it is a sign of the tremendous tourism attraction, the tourist sector has become a priority for the UAE investors. The Ambassador has pointed out that bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $ 1.1 b at the end of 2011, and there is potential for future growth.
In response Minister Bathiudeen has said that UAE is the second largest trade partner in the Middle East after Iran, and 22 UAE firms have actively invested $ 448.6 million in Sri Lanka by the end of last year, of which $ 16.5 million consisted of Sri Lankan equity.
Source: news.lk, October 9, 2012; Image: slpa