The Department of Government Relations (DGR) – Sharjah, took a high-level delegation to Barcelona, Spain, from March 11-14, 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 future cooperation with Spain in these areas.

Chaired by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of DGR, the delegation included HE Dr Saeed Musbah Al Kaabi, Chairman, Sharjah Education Council (SEC); HE Dr Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairman, Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH); HE Dr Abdullah Bin Ali Muhayan, Chairman, Sharjah Health Authority (SHA); HE Dr Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Director of SHA; HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); HE 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 bin Sultan Al Qasimi, HE Mohammed Abdullah Al Shamsi, UAE Consul-General in Barcelona; HE Dr Al Musallam and Dr Al Kaabi, met with Mr. Francesc Vilaró, the ministry’s General Secretary; Mr. Miquel Curanta, Director General of Catalan Institute for Cultural Companies (ICEC); and Àngels Sola, Head of technical Cabinet to talk about potential opportunities and enhanced cooperation in sharing cultural expertise.

Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of DGR, Sharjah, 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 commented: “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 & 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, and receive a high number of patients from the Middle East.

HE Mohammed Abdullah Al Shamsi, UAE Consul-General in Barcelona, ​​said: "Sharjah’s Government Relations Department visit to Barcelona is important to strengthen our bilateral relationships, attract and build cooperation with Catalan institutions in cultural, educational and academic fields."

HE Dr Saeed Musbah 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.

He noted that SEC is committed to forge new relationships with reputable educational institutions in Barcelona, to take from the latest in the educational sector that aligns with the vision and strategy of SEC and the emirate of Sharjah.

HE Marwan bin Jassim 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.

He explained: “Sharjah continues to strengthen its position among top global hubs for SMEs and logistics by boosting the growth of businesses in diversified industries and sectors. On this visit, our aim was to leverage this growth to create new frontiers by getting a closer look at a city so rich historically and culturally, as well as has a strong reputation in technology, education and business development.”

He highlighted: “We were successful in engaging preliminary high-level discussions with some of Barcelona’s most bespoke business and investment facilities, such as the Catalonia Trade & Investment, and the Barcelona Activa company, the organisation responsible for boosting economic policies and local development through entrepreneurship. We also conducted a series of visits to museums, scientific institutions and heritage institutes, as part of our objectives in communicating some of the latest developments in Sharjah’s educational, cultural and technological markets and resources varying from government establishments and free zones that could both service any expanding opportunities for such institutions from Sharjah and the region.”

Mohamed Juma 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.”

He continued: “Our key mission here was to present Barcelonan investors and officials with relevant business case studies on Sharjah’s healthcare, entrepreneurship and other specialised sectors, so they are able to put their needs and requirements appropriately within Sharjah and UAE markets, which will eventually lead to our FDI growth.”

Emirati-Spanish relations have been strong in various sectors since 1972. Currently, a large number of Spaniards reside, work and invest in the UAE. The bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded USD 2billion, in addition to many UAE investments in Spain.


Source: National Network Communications – NNC