Sharjah leads Emirati-Spanish Dialogue

BARCELONA, 13th March, 2019 (WAM) -- The Department of Government Relations, DGR, Sharjah, took a high-level delegation to Barcelona, Spain, from 11th to 14th March, 2019, to explore new areas of bilateral interest with their Spanish counterparts.

The delegation discussed best practices and latest methodologies Sharjah has adopted in the sectors of education, socioeconomic development and healthcare, and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation with Spain in these areas in the future.

Chaired by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of DGR, the delegation included Dr Saeed Musbah Al Kaabi, Chairman, Sharjah Education Council; Dr Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairman, Sharjah Institute for Heritage ; Dr Abdullah Bin Ali Muhayan, Chairman, Sharjah Health Authority (SHA); Dr Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Director of SHA; Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO, Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); and Ali Rashid Al Ketbi, International Relations Executive at DGR.

On a visit to the Ministry of Culture in Catalonia, Sheikh Fahim, Mohammed Abdullah Al Shamsi, UAE Consul-General in Barcelona; Dr Al Musallam and Dr Al Kaabi, met with Francesc Vilaró, the ministry’s General Secretary; Miquel Curanta, Director-General of the Catalan Institute for Cultural Companies; and Angels Sola, Head of the Technical Cabinet, to discuss potential opportunities and enhanced cooperation in sharing cultural expertise.

Sheikh Fahim pointed out that Sharjah has made great strides in emboldening diplomatic ties through their foreign affairs practices with a specific focus on mutually beneficial collaborations. He emphasised that the emirate has successfully furthered this objective by aligning its efforts with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

The DGR Executive Chairman stated, "Sharjah enjoys a special relationship with several cities around the world, including Barcelona, which ranks fourth among all European cities in its capabilities of scientific production, is the fifth most preferred European city for the start-ups business. Furthermore, the Catalonian capital continues to be the top choice for foreign direct investment in the entire European Union."

Focusing on the potential for future developments, Sheikh Fahim noted that the UAE is currently the biggest market in the Gulf Region for Barcelonan exports, and 37 percent of Spain’s exports to the UAE in 2017 originated from the Catalan region.

Along with a few members of the Sharjah delegation, Sheikh Fahim met with Teresa Cunillera, Delegate of the Spanish Government in Catalonia; Montserrat Yobera, Deputy Delegate of the Spanish Government in Barcelona, and visited the Catalan Institute of Cultural Companies, saw heads of Catalonia Trade an Investment, Barcelona Activa, as well as the Information Technology Incubator in Barcelona. The visit also included several city hospitals and clinics known for their exceptional ophthalmology departments, which receive a high number of patients from the Middle East.

Dr Saeed al Kaabi commented, "This visit is part of our ongoing mission to further our positive and productive relationship with Spain, to develop and benefit from international experiences and apply best practices in various fields. We were here to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various fields including education, economy and culture.

Al Sarkal reiterated that the Barcelona visit played a key role in introducing Spanish investors to the latest facilities, services and opportunities in Sharjah’s SME, education, healthcare and trade sectors.

Al Musharrkh, added, "Sharjah and Spain have shared a strategic relationship for several decades covering a wide range of sectors such as trade, tourism, culture and education. This visit allowed both parties a unique platform to engage and receive direct access to information that would hopefully grow this relationship into new and more specialised markets."

The bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded US$2 billion, in addition to many UAE investments in Spain.