A Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry led senior Dubai business leaders’ delegation from the retail and franchising sectors recently concluded their trade mission to Baku in Azerbaijan. Besides meeting the country’s Minister of Economy and Industry, the delegation also visited Baku’s iconic real estate development of residential and commercial complexes.
The delegation, which was headed by H.E. Hisham Al Shirawi, 2nd Vice-Chairman, Dubai Chamber, included H.E. Abdul Hamied Ahmed Seddiqi, Board Member, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, Adel Zarouni, Managing Director, Rivoli Group LLC, Nilesh Ved, Chairman, Apparel Group, and Ishwar Chugani, Executive Director, Giordano.
The objective behind Dubai Chamber trade mission was to promote experience and know-how of modern Dubai retailers and developers in planning, building, and running modern shopping centres. Another aim of the mission was to create an opportunity for leading Dubai and Azerbaijani retailers to discuss business opportunities as well as to strengthen the status of the emirate as an international retail and franchising hub.
Meeting with Azerbaijan Minister of Economy and Industry
A high level meeting between H.E. Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijan Minister of Economy and Industry, and H.E. Hisham Al Shirawi focused on bilateral relations and two-way flow of investments as the Minister lauded the deep political and economic relations enjoyed by the two countries stating that these ties are being further enhanced due to the UAE and Azerbaijan’s financial stability.
The Azerbaijan Minister of Economy and Industry also said that political relations, legal framework, as well as fruitful activity of the Intergovernmental Commission paved the way for development of the economic cooperation.
“Trade and economic ties are expanding between Azerbaijan and the UAE. The opening of Dubai Chamber representative office in Baku is a strong signal of cooperation between the two countries,” said H.E. Mustafayev. He added, “There were ample cooperation opportunities for developing infrastructure, trade, agriculture and investment between the two countries.”
On his part, H.E. Al Shirawi stated, “Dubai Chamber has studied Azerbaijan’s economic growth and has identified its significant economic and investment potential hence chose the country as an ideal location for its first international office as well as due to its close proximity to CIS countries, Central Asia and the Caucasus.”
He highlighted Dubai’s status as an excellent re-export hub offering world-class logistical and infrastructural services to traders from Azerbaijan and CIS countries wanting to reach major consumer markets in the region and the world.
H.E. Al Shirawi called upon Azeri businesses to attend various international events and exhibitions held in Dubai. “Attending these events will create good opportunities for Azerbaijani businessmen to build new business relations,” he said.
The 2nd Vice Chairman of Dubai Chamber expressed his pleasure with the outcome of the meeting with the Azerbaijan Minister of Economy and Industry and his commitment to take the two countries’ economic relations forward as he said that the trade mission accomplished its goal of exploring cooperation opportunities in the retail sector while exchanging experience and expertise between Dubai firms and their Azeri counterparts.
CEO Roundtable on Retail and Franchising Opportunities
A CEO roundtable on Retail and Franchising Opportunities in Azerbaijan held at the Four Seasons Hotel was attended by H.E. Sahil Babayev, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Development of Azerbaijan, H.E. Hisham Al Shirawi, Rufat Mammadov, President, Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and Rasul Mammadov, Partner, Azerbaijan Property Solutions.
The roundtable, which was attended by 30 Dubai and Azeri business leaders, discussed Dubai’s experience in commercial real estate and retail management, franchising needs of the growing consumer market in Azerbaijan, bringing Dubai-grown brands and franchises to Azerbaijan and helping Azerbaijani brands and franchises to do business in Dubai.
In his welcome speech, H.E. Al Shirawi stressed, “The retail sector accounts for 13% of Dubai’s GDP and helps to attract millions of tourists from all across the world while the UAE retail sales are forecast to grow to Dhs151bn by 2015 – a significant portion of which will originate in Dubai.”
He further stressed, “Dubai’s hosting of Expo 2020 will see a considerable rise in retail sales and will offer many new investment opportunities for companies operating in the emirate as he called upon Azerbaijani companies to set up base in Dubai and benefit from the opportunities arising from its various economic sectors.”
Dubai Chamber is ready to assist its Azerbaijani counterparts to help increase awareness in the UAE of Azerbaijan’s economic potential. The general public should be aware of this very promising business and tourism destination, he added.
H.E. Dr. Sahil Babayev, Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry, informed, “Azerbaijan has been through a period of significant economic growth. Its government plans to double the GDP by 2020 and is committed to developing the non-oil sector, which includes the retail sector.” “Dubai’s leading position and experience in retail can help Azerbaijan expand economic growth as the two sides’ excellent political and economic relations are an important foundation to successfully implement bilateral retail and franchising projects,” he said.
Members of Dubai delegation spoke of Dubai’s global leadership in retail from street retail to modern malls which are today an ever-evolving lifestyle destination. Dubai delegates expressed their openness to engage with Azerbaijani partners to identify opportunities in the Azerbaijan market and help bring global, regional, and local UAE brands to Azerbaijan.
One-to-one meetings and field visits
In his one-to-one meeting with H.E. Al Shirawi, Dr. Mammad Musayev, President of Azerbaijan Association of Entrepreneur Organisations, expressed the desire of his association to establish formal ties with Dubai Chamber to help support growth of bilateral business projects between their members. He also proposed to form a bilateral business council, whose regular meetings could help systematise expansion of business ties.
Here, H.E. Al Shirawi added, “Dubai Chamber is ready to consider the Association’s proposal to create a formal framework of cooperation between the two entities in developing joint agricultural, food, trade and retail, tourism, transport and logistics, construction and infrastructure, financial services and IT projects.”
The delegation visited Park Bulvar, the first shopping mall in Baku besides visiting Baku White City, a modern real estate development built on an ecologically reclaimed industrial zone to accommodate 50,000 residents as well as the Flame Towers, an iconic real estate development in Baku with three residential, commercial and a Fairmont Hotel Baku towers.
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Ruba Abdel Halim
Manager, Public Relations & Corporate Communications