Virtual Trade Mission Highlights Growth of Arizona-U.A.E. Trade and Strength of Educational Partnerships

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May 27, 2021

U.A.E. Consul General in Los Angeles H.E. Hazza Alkaabi, Arizona Commerce Authority Senior Vice President for International Trade Kevin O’Shea, ​and Raytheon Emirates Chief Executive Alan Davis detailed the flourishing ties between Arizona and the U.A.E. during a virtual trade mission co-hosted by the Arizona Commerce Authority and the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council​. This event is a precursor to in-person engagement between Arizona and the U.A.E. later this year ​surrounding the Dubai Airshow and Expo 2020 Dubai. A full video of the event can be found here

The U.A.E.’s Consul General in Los Angeles, H.E. Hazza Alkaabi, ​gave an overview of the U.A.E., the U.S.-U.A.E. bilateral relationship, and the burgeoning ties between Arizona and the U.A.E. in particular. In 2020, Arizona exported over $169 million dollars in products and services to the Emirates, supporting 6,363 Arizona jobs. Raytheon’s facility in Tucson provides the U.A.E. Armed Forces with the capabilities they need to protect shared interests in the region, and U.A.E. Air Force pilots have trained alongside the Arizona Air National Guard to prepare for joint operations.

His Excellency detailed the partnership between the U.A.E. space industry, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. Last year, the U.A.E. successfully launched the Arab world’s first spacecraft to Mars. The Emirates Mars Mission space probe, which is called “Al Amal,” or “Hope” in English, was built in the United States thanks, in part, to partnership with ASU and NAU. Arizona scientists worked closely with Emirati scientists and engineers to design the instrument which is providing a unique view of Mars’ lower and middle atmosphere. 

His Excellency also discussed opportunities for collaboration in combatting climate change.  An Arizona-based company – Source Global – is using solar energy to power a facility in Dubai that will create bottled water using nothing but the moisture in the air.  He concluded, “This innovative U.A.E.-Arizona collaboration is driving progress on sustainable energy and water security in the Middle East, and it is exactly this kind of partnership that we are eager to explore with other companies in Arizona and across the United States.”

Kevin O’Shea ​commended the U.A.E.’s “dynamism” and elaborated on the strong relationship between the U.A.E. and Arizona that spans many decades and verticals.  Prior to the pandemic, Arizona exports to the U.A.E. grew by 83%, and the U.A.E. became the 13th largest export destination for Arizona. Moreover, the U.A.E. and Arizona ​”share a great deal of work” in aerospace and defense, healthcare, electric vehicles, agtech, water tech, and sustainability. 

Alan Davis, Chief Executive of Raytheon Emirates​, lauded the business friendly environment of the U.A.E. and offered sound advice for Arizona companies looking to expand their operations​ there. Specifically, he noted the strong diversity, technology​, and talent found on the ground in the U.A.E. ​He also spoke about the significance of U.A.E. reforms to allow full foreign ownership of businesses, noting that three years ago when Raytheon Emirates was established there were only 5 non-Emirati companies given ​this opportunity.

Consul General Alkaabi referenced the U.A.E. leadership’s desire to “celebrate the day when they export their last barrel of oil” through economic diversification. Moreover, he spoke of the U.A.E.’s push into renewables, transportation, healthcare, water, space, and other areas. Stressing the U.A.E.’s regional leadership when it comes to renewable energy, he outlined the U.A.E.’s investments in hydrogen, nuclear, renewables, and carbon capture and storage.

Consul General Alkaabi then turned to the U.A.E.’s prominence as an export destination and transshipment hub. Because of the U.A.E.’s “strategic location between East and West,” he noted that the U.A.E. is within an 8-hour flight of two-thirds of the world’s population. Jebel Ali is the busiest port in the Middle East region, and Dubai International Airport is the world’s busiest airport.

Kevin O’Shea ​spoke of the U.A.E.’s power as a global convening ground, drawing on his experiences leading​ trade missions and delegations ​to the country. ​He remarked, “When I bring delegations to the U.A.E., I am not just bringing them to the U.A.E. or the MENA region, but I am bringing them to the world.” ​He further noted that he will be leading a delegation to the Dubai Airshow in November of 2021​- which he encourages Arizona entities to reach out to him about if interested. 

​Pivoting to opportunities for U.A.E. investment in Arizona, Kevin underscored the similarities between Arizona and the U.A.E. ​that make them both great places to do business. Both are home to an entrepreneurial spirit, innovation culture, and business friendly environment with ​low taxes, an outstanding workforce, low regulatory burdens,​ and a high quality of life.  ​This has led to significant investments in areas such as electric vehicles and semiconductors.

​Alan Davis seconded Kevin’s assessment of Arizona as a great place to do business, referencing its universities, “incredible climate,” and “diverse and vibrant culture.”  He noted that Raytheon has been present in Arizona for 70 years, and that they currently have 14,000 employees in the state. They also currently do business with around 500 Arizona companies, accounting for “$2 billion in spend per year.” 

Panelists also spoke to the value of education in developing workforces to fuel key business sectors in both the U.S. and U.A.E. Alan Davis ​said it was “eye watering” to see the “energy youth have [in the U.A.E.] around technology, science, and math.” He noted that 3 years ago, Raytheon Emirates had 5 interns while they are poised to have 17 this year. ​

Consul General Alkaabi, in turn, referenced the educational ties between the U.A.E. and Arizona. Prior to the pandemic, there were almost 500 Emirati students at any one time studying in Arizona. The Consul General’s younger brother, Saif, was one of them.

The virtual mission concluded with a conversation about Expo 2020 Dubai. This global event will provide Arizona businesses with the opportunity to showcase its innovation in space, life sciences, and other important business verticals. ​Consul General Alkaabi extended a “warm Emirati welcome” to attend.
 
For more information about the Business Council, please contact the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s head of communications, Mary Zuccarello at mzuccarello@usuaebusiness.org or visit our website at www.usuaebusiness.org.