Canada seeks to grow tech co-operation with UAE companies

Canadian enterprises are expected to announce new partnerships with some of the UAE's biggest public sector entities and utilities, consul general Tracy Reynolds says

Tracy Reynolds, consul general of Canada in Dubai, says Canadian technology executives have already held talks with Dewa and RTA at Gitex. Leslie Pableo / The National
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Canada is seeking increased co-operation and partnerships in key technology with government and private sector entities in the UAE to help them boost consumer services, as the two nations look to deepen trade and economic ties, its consul general in Dubai has said.

The North American country is keen to open more lines of communications with government entities that provide essential services to residents in a fast-moving and tech-driven country, including those in the utilities and transport sectors, Tracy Reynolds told The National in an interview at the Gitex Global technology conference in Dubai.

Top executives of Canadian technology companies have already held talks with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), on the sidelines of the event, he said.

The consul general declined to give details of those discussion,= but said announcements on partnerships and collaborations could be expected in the near future.

"We were able to sit down and talk to them and introduce Canadian companies, who discussed their technology solutions that can be used to improve the services being delivered to residents of Dubai and the UAE," he said.

"There's a lot of business that's happening. The opportunities speak for themselves," said Mr Reynolds, who succeeded Jean-Philippe Linteau in July.

These potential partnerships with UAE entities will underpin Canada's biggest participation at Gitex, the week-long technology conference and exhibition in emirate.

The number of Canadian enterprises has doubled this year at Dubai's global technology centrepiece to 60, he added.

Canada, one of top global economies is home to the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, the biggest technology cluster in North America outside of Silicon Valley.

The corridor hosts more than 15,000 tech companies including at least 5,000 start-ups, and more than 300,000 employees in high-tech industries, data from the Waterloo EDC economic body shows.

Canada is focused on advancing innovations in AI, the Internet of Things, cyber security and augmented and virtual reality, with several other technology clusters around the country, Mr Reynolds said.

Canadian technology is already being used in "almost every major government agency in Dubai and the UAE", he said.

"Some of our AI companies that are coming here are talking about how they can use data and information that Dubai-based companies can use to improve the quality of their services, drive efficiencies and find alternative revenue streams."

The technology exchange is part of a wider economic co-operation between the UAE and Canada. Since 2018, the value of bilateral trade between the two countries has consistently grown, climbing 1.6 per cent year-on-year to nearly C$2.6 billion ($1.89 billion) at the end of last year.

The value of trade hit C$1.4 billion in the first six months of this year, on pace to surpass the highs achieved in 2022.

The aggregate value of the UAE’s investment in Canada, meanwhile, topped $30 billion, according to the UAE Ministry of the Economy data.

Mr Linteau, who is now Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, previously told The National he expects these numbers to grow further.

"We're here to do business and to have a relationship based on trust, loyalty and long-term objectives," Mr Reynolds said.

Canada is also seeking to co-operate with the UAE in boosting supply chains to ensure economic, food and energy security, all of which are critical to Canada's relationships with countries globally.

Canadian companies already have partnerships and investments worth billions of dollars in the UAE across sectors including in petroleum and natural gas, manufacturing, food industries, health, education, banking and financial services, hospitality and tourism, UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs data shows.

The relationship between the two countries is growing as Dubai and the UAE "continue to present themselves as a very stable environment to do business, and to be a place to base your company in and explore the rest of the region", Mr Reynolds said.

Updated: October 22, 2023, 8:00 AM