By Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades yesterday began contacts in Abu Dhabi at the start of a four-day visit to the United Arab Emirates aiming to attract foreign investment.
He is accompanied by his wife Andri and a high-level delegation including the ministers of finance and energy and other officials.
Last night he was to attend a dinner with local businessmen in Abu Dhabi where he spelled out the reasons they should consider investing in Cyprus.
“At the heart of the government’s strategy for economic recovery is the pursuance of foreign direct investment, and to this end all steps are being taken to ensure that a more effective and business-friendly environment,” he said.
“The government is strongly committed to further enhance Cyprus’ strategic advantages… ensuring that Cyprus is a reliable partner.”
In his speech Anastasiades focused on three key areas for possible investment. One was the privatisation of semi-government organisations.
“The portfolio of businesses which are being considered for privatisation have the relevant profile to render them potentially attractive to international investors such as funds based in the United Arab Emirates. Cyprus could be the EU passport to banking, telecommunications and air transport,” he said.
He moved on to talk about the island’s hydrocarbons discovery, which he said created “remarkable prospects” for investment and co-operation in the energy sector and auxiliary services.
Thirdly he focused on tourism, saying and spoke of plans to diversify the product so that Cyprus could be a year-round destination.
“Cyprus may be a small country but the current transition in the economy offers a wealth of opportunities for growth and investment in an array of sectors such as energy, banks, shipping, tourism, stock exchange, large scale development projects as well as education and health,” said Anastasiades.
He said the island was succeeding in steadily overcoming the difficulties following the Eurogroup’s decision in March of last year and that key sectors had proved to be significantly more resilient than originally expected.
Capital controls were also gradually being lifted but told the businessman that “fresh money is not subject to capital restrictions”.
Today, Anastasiades will have separate meetings with the Director General of the Arab Monetary Fund Abdulrahman Al Hamidy and CEO of the Mubadala Development Company, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak. Later he will visit the Mushrif Palace where he will be officially received by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The official ceremony will be followed by talks between the two delegations, which will be followed by the signing of bilateral agreements. On the same day, the president will meet with the Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (AIDA), Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, followed by a meeting with the Director General of the renewable sources company IRENA, Adnan Amin.
Tomorrow, Anastasiades will travel to Dubai, where he will pay tribute to the tomb of the founder of the nation, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, at the Grand Mosque. The president will also address a business forum organised by the Chambers of Commerce of Dubai and Cyprus, to be attended by a large number of Cypriot businesspeople.
Later in the day, he will meet the Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airlines, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. He will also meet with the CEO of the property development company Emaar, Abdullah Lahaj and managing director Ahmad Al Matrooshi.
The Cypriot delegation returns home on Thursday.