The Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), which is part of the Department of Economic Development, hosted a VIP lunch for Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Barbara Leaf, U.S. ambassador to the UAE, earlier this month.
As the third most competitive city for business in the U.S., Orlando receives more than 60 million visitors each year. Now, Jacobs is promoting the city and the county as a place for not only tourism, but also for high tech and medical fields. City and county officials are also looking to promote better trade relations with the UAE as the state exports vehicles, precious metals and technology hardware to the Gulf region.
Officials in the UAE see it as a win-win situation, as they are also looking to open investment channels and move their national economy beyond what can be accomplished within its borders.
With nonstop daily flights between Florida and the emirates, more of these meetings may pave the way for a better mutual trade relationship. Leaders are looking at investing abroad, not just with sovereign wealth funds and private sector bankrolls, but with the kinds of international trade that supports long-term mutual development.
“Dubai is a growing area.” Osman Suliman, professor of economics at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, told the Gulf News Journal. “There is room for investments; there's room for new ideas. They're still looking to diversify the economy.”
Of course, Suliman said, the local economy around Dubai is already fairly diversified, with growth in local tourism and real estate fields.
“They made it very attractive to foreign investments” Suliman said.
It remains to be seen, however, whether instability in the region as a whole will have an impact.
“Dubai itself is very stable,” Suliman said. “Dubai is probably immune.”
Still, he says, with trouble in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, there is a certain amount of influx of migration that Gulf state nations have to handle.
Oil prices are also dropping, which, Suliman said, might be a factor leading Gulf state officials to try to boost international trade relations and explore other avenues for economic development.
At the core of it, though, UAE officials stress the importance of building these relationships on common interests.
"We acknowledge the support extended by Mayor Jacob's office and the Central Florida International Trade Office to our recent mission to Orlando," Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO of Dubai FDI, said in a press release issued during Jacob's visit. "We look forward to building on this new relationship in the form of bilateral memoranda of understanding. Dubai and Florida have vast areas of common interest, particularly as competitive hubs of business, tourism, logistics, technology and knowledge-driven economic activities, and also as preferred places to live."