Good afternoon! I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you this morning at the kick-off meeting, but I’m very pleased to be able to meet you now.
And it’s good to see such a broad and varied group taking part in this trade mission to the United Arab Emirates!
This is a very fitting place to meet: for most companies Dubai Airport Freezone is the first point of access to the UAE. And access is a key aspect of this mission.
Let me first thank Ambassador Lody Embrechts and Consul General Carel Richter and the team that was involved in the preparations of this trade mission.
It’s a great pleasure for me to lead this Dutch trade mission with so many representatives of Dutch businesses and knowledge institutions: fifty participants from three sectors: water (19), the circular economy (14) and sustainable energy (17).
I’m looking forward to the programme, during which we’ll be visiting:
- the first world exhibition in the Middle East: ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’;
- the Netherlands pavilion at the Expo, and
- Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The question is: what does a small, cold and wet country on the North Sea have to offer a dry and extremely hot Gulf State? The answer is: plenty! More than you might think at first glance.
Both the Gulf region and the Netherlands are facing the same issues. We both need to make the transition towards smart and sustainable water management, renewable energy and a circular economy.
And the Netherlands has a lot to offer. We can make it rain in the desert! [as we will see at the Netherlands pavilion this week]. Need I say more?
Looking at the list of participants, I’m sure we will do a good job of presenting and promoting Dutch business and knowledge institutions.
And we need these international contacts and connections in order to find solutions that both our peoples will benefit from.
The new Dutch government is ambitious. Our aim is to make the Netherlands fit for the future – climate neutral, fossil-fuel free and circular –with green energy and green industry. The Netherlands wants to lead the way in Europe in the transition towards a green economy.
This transition is particularly urgent for the Gulf States, given their dependence on food imports, the arid climate and water scarcity.
The UAE has ambitions for a green future, with the promise of net-zero emissions by 2050. And, of course: in 2023 the UAE will be hosting the COP28 climate conference.
We will learn more about this ambition and see examples of developments in the UAE this week.
This mission presents a unique opportunity to deepen relations with existing partners, meet new partners and discuss common challenges.
So this week, let’s investigate what the challenges in the United Arab Emirates are and what possible solutions you can offer.
Let’s benefit from the participation of three sectors in this trade mission and make connections. Let’s see if there are opportunities for cooperation. And above all, let me know what I can do for you.
I wish you all a successful mission.