This week will see an important gathering in Calgary hosted by the Canada-UAE Business Council that will contribute to the growing relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Canada. I am pleased to be participating in my role as Co-Chair of the Council, a relatively young organisation, which is facilitating long-term relationships to improve overall market-accessibility between the two countries.
Since its inception in 2013, the Business Council has explored areas to spur trade and investment and build on the advance in relations between the two governments, with increasing momentum.
Nevertheless, while the synergies between the UAE and Canada are plentiful, the full extent of the cooperation between the two countries remains relatively unknown.
Exploring today’s co-operation
Canada has been a part of our story since the formation of the UAE, and the parallels between the two countries are striking.
Economic growth in both nations has been built on natural resources, and oil and gas in particular, with more recent investments in petrochemicals, infrastructure and renewable energy. New opportunities are emerging for collaboration in these and other sectors as we look to the next industrial age through innovation and diversification, and advance into nascent sectors such as artificial intelligence and space industries.
Elsewhere, we have a similar federal government structure and our strategic geographical locations, with bordering powerhouse nations and partners in Saudi Arabia and the United States, respectively, have ensured we have an active voice in international cooperation.
Beyond investment within economic and trade strategies, common social values have intertwined this relationship. We are committed to ensuring equal rights, tolerance and cohesion forms the social fabric of our nations. Indeed, at a time when the Middle East and many corners of the world are facing a tumultuous shift and the threat of extremism looms, bilateral relationships are forged to ensure a stable foundation and safeguard future progress.
Social and economic ties
Today, there are currently 40,000 Canadians living in the UAE, enjoying the security and lifestyle the country has to offer. There are also 150 Canadian companies operating across the UAE, all playing a significant part in the economic advancement and transformation we, as a nation, are engaged in.
Equally, Canada has long invited UAE nationals to enter its higher education ecosystem. Knowledge transfer for our younger generation - be it curriculum led or within business areas - is a critical area of collaboration that continues today. Furthermore, earlier this year Canada confirmed that Emiratis will be able to travel visa-free to the country, an agreement that was ratified between Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Canada's Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade.
This solidarity has also supported UAE-based companies in strengthening investment agreements on Canadian soil.
As a representative of the UAE’s Mubadala Investment Company, I have seen this partnership in action and proudly seen first-hand how the UAE’s investment in Canada has now reached over $20 billion.
Our operations in Canada and North America are an important pillar to our international expansion story. Today, we have live investments within Canada across a diverse range of sectors including energy, renewables, health care and education.
UAE-Canadian success stories
NOVA Chemicals lies at the heart of our petroleum and petrochemicals portfolio, and is one of North America’s leading polyethylene producers, developing a range of innovative products to meet the increasing complex requirements of its customers. As well as featuring in a wide range of everyday products, polyethylene is an important contributor to a new generation of strong lightweight materials that are vital to support new technological advances such as electric vehicles, personal communications devices and high voltage cabling. We are supporting NOVA’s Canadian growth strategy, with investment at its Ontario operations expected to exceed C$2bn (Dh5.59bn).
Staying within the petrochemical sector, Mubadala’s integrated energy company Cepsa has a plant in Quebec producing linear alkylbenzene (LAB). LAB is the essential material in the production of biodegradable detergents and Cepsa is a global leader, with total production representing 15 per cent of world supply.
These investments have a positive impact on the Canadian communities in which they operate, providing job opportunities, building human capital and infrastructure, and contributing to long-term economic prosperity.
Future-proofing the relationship
Through these investments, I have had the pleasure of visiting the operations of various UAE business interests on trips to Canada. We also regularly welcome over 50 Canadian companies at ADIPEC, one of the world’s largest oil and gas conferences, held annually in Abu Dhabi. Nevertheless, I am new to the role as Co-Chair of Canada-UAE Business Council.
I was appointed just a few months ago, but it is a position that has already provided me with an enormous sense of pride. It is extremely humbling to be a part of a dialogue that is adding new voices to the cooperation between the UAE and Canada.
This week I am travelling to Canada alongside a high-level UAE delegation, including Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy & Industry, and a number of world-leading UAE companies. Facilitated by the Business Council, we will participate alongside like-minded Canadian partners at various meetings as part of the Calgary Stampede and Stampede Investment Forum, and continue our dialogue in the Council's own Symposium.
As I prepare for the trip, one thought is evident; it is more important than ever for bilateral relationships to protect and increase global prosperity.
For the UAE and Canada, I’m confident our nations will continue to deepen ties that will have a lasting impact. In Canada, the UAE has a world respected partner and ally.
Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Co-Chair of Canada-UAE Business Council and Chief Executive Officer, Petroleum & Petrochemicals, Mubadala Investment Company.