Special Feature
New Markets, New Opportunities
New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Delegates visit the Museum of the Future in Dubai. The emirate aims to become a top-three global destination for business and tourism.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Left: Mission leader Jonathan Lamport represented HKGCC to sign an MOU with Sameer Abdulla Nass, Chairman of BCCI.
Right: China’s Ambassador to Bahrain Ni Ruchi hosted a welcome dinner for the delegation on their first night in Manama.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Left: Members attended the opening reception of Manama Entrepreneurship Week and met with senior officials.
Above, right: UOB students explain how their cloud-based energy monitoring system works and its applications.
Below, right: Members visited the Huawei office
in Bahrain.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Right: Members have a quick lunch between meetings in Dubai.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Above, left: Members getting some useful contacts at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce.
Below, left: HKGCC Belt & Road Convenor Edmond Yue delivered a speech at the Abu Dhabi Chamber about China’s Belt & Road Initiative.
Right: A visit to the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s largest mosque.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Above and left: We had a productive B2B session with members of the Bahrain Chamber.
Right: Mohamed Sharaf, COO for Investment Attraction at Dubai Economic Development Corporation (DEDC), told members that Dubai plans to double its GDP growth to propel the city forward.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

At the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce (ADC), members met with Masaood Rahma Al Masaood, Treasurer, ADC, and Board Members Shamis Ali Al Dhaheri and Fouad Fahmi Darwish, to discuss how Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong companies can collaborate further.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Left: Members look around some of the projects being developed at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park.
Right: Members explore the products and services showcased at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce’s exhibition centre on the chamber’s premises.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

Thanking our hosts at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce for such a wonderful reception.

New Markets, New Opportunities<br/>新市場 新機遇

The island kingdom of Bahrain is a thriving, modern business hub. The new gleaming towers of metal and glass in Manama, the capital city, are testament to the investment pouring into the kingdom. They also reinforce the country’s long-held position as a landing pad for companies looking to do business in the region. 

Bahrain was the hub for business in the Middle East for many decades, Iain Lindsay, Advisor to the Economic Development Board of Bahrain, told members. 

“Because of the country’s history as a trading hub, Bahrainis have got trading built into their DNA. The majority of businesses in Bahrain are SMEs, so both the territory and people have much in common with Hong Kong. They both speak the language of business,” he said.

Jonathan Lamport, mission leader and Chairman of the Asia, Africa & Middle East Committee, agreed that both economies have many similarities. “Much like Bahrain makes it easy for businesses to enter into neighbouring Gulf countries, Hong Kong also takes the pain and tears out of entering the China market,” he said.

Lindsay explained that businesses in Bahrain pay zero taxes, and the kingdom has over 40 double taxation agreements with jurisdictions around the world. Moreover, 100% foreign ownership of a company is allowed. He added that such advantages explain why many global firms – including DHL’s global forwarding operations, which set up in Bahrain in 1977 – continue to use the kingdom as their regional base. 

Huawei has also established a hub in the kingdom. Li Haiyun, Managing Director of Huawei Bahrain, explained that their operations take advantage of the diverse talent pool available, as 53% of the population is made up of expatriates. 

During a visit to the University of Bahrain (UOB) Cloud Innovation Center, where Amazon Web Services (AWS) set up its first AWS Region in the Middle East in 2019, Nidal Al-Basha, Head of Innovation, AWS, said e-government in Bahrain is very advanced having started as early as 2008. 

UOB’s innovation programme is helping creative minds find solutions to current problems.  “To innovate to a final product, we adopt a working backwards mechanism, which creates clarity and focuses on solving problems for business challenges,” he said. “We imagine we are living in the future and write a press release about what we want to have created or accomplished at that time and then work backwards through the process.”

The programme has already taken some students’ ideas into the real world to solve problems ranging from an avatar that can take live audio and speak in sign language to aquaculture fish farming to reduce the mortality of fingerlings. 

 

MoU Reinforces Cooperation

At the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI), Sameer Abdulla Nass, BCCI Chairman, signed an MoU with mission leader Lamport to reinforce closer cooperation. Lamport thanked BCCI for agreeing to expand collaboration, and spoke about the similarities that both Bahrain and Hong Kong share in punching far above their weight. 

Edmond Yue, General Committee member and Vice Chairman of the Asia, Africa & Middle East Committee, added: “One of Hong Kong’s key roles is to help businesses connect in a global sense. We serve as a bridge to help companies from around the world enter the ever-growing China market in many sectors. Along with the GBA, Hong Kong can be a super-connector for companies to understand the regulations, and to plan the roadmap for the greater China market. This also offers huge opportunities for companies looking to capture business under the ever-adapting Belt & Road Initiative for global businesses.”

Bahrainis are famous for being friendly and generous hosts. Capping off the first leg of the trip was a fantastic feast hosted by the mission’s supporting organization the Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association (HKBBA). The association’s Chairman Oscar Chow, who is also Honorary Consul General of Bahrain in Hong Kong, thanked members for their interest and hoped it was just the first step of a long and fruitful relationship with the kingdom.

Mission delegate Mingles Tsoi, CXO (Chief eXploration Officer) of ParticleX, said the recent change to a one-stop-shop mechanism and digitalization of the company formation process is an advantage for business registration in Bahrain. “No corporate tax is, of course, a huge incentive for doing business there, as is the geographic location. The King Fahd Causeway, which is 25km long, links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, makes Bahrain easily accessible to other Middle East countries, besides the air and sea routes.”

 

Dubai: City of the Future 

The second leg of the mission took us to Dubai, whose growth targets are as high as its iconic buildings. At our meeting with the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, Mohamed Sharaf, Chief Operating Officer for Investment Attraction at Dubai Economic Development Corporation, explained that the city’s goal of achieving 10 transformational projects, including doubling its GDP to 6%, from the historic average of 3%, was well underway. 

He said growth would be driven by priority sectors – logistics, financial hub, manufacturing and tourism. Dubai aims to become a top-five global logistics hub, a top-four global financial hub, and a top-three global destination for business and leisure travel. To achieve these targets, it is crucial to attract more talent to the emirate. 

“We offer the Golden Visa, which is a long-term residence visa that allows foreign talent to live, work or study in the UAE while enjoying exclusive benefits. We want to attract top-tier talent from around the world,” said Sharaf. 

Yue suggested that Dubai could use Hong Kong as an entry point into the Mainland, and said that the rapid development of the GBA offered lots of opportunities for UAE businesses as our pillar industries had a lot in common. 

Dubai Chambers is also helping to deliver the government’s goals, as it set up three chamber pillars – International, Digital and Commerce – as well as 31 international offices around the world. By 2030, it plans to have opened 50 international branches to help promote Dubai globally to attract investment and talent. 

One figure that was regularly repeated during meetings in Bahrain and UAE was the 0% corporate tax, import/exports, income tax and profits tax. Although this sounds like music to the ears, businesses should study the fine print as in some cases, 0% corporate tax is applicable only for companies operating in qualifying zones. 

Another often-cited statistic is that most people in Bahrain (53%) and the UAE (89%) were non-locals, adding depth and breadth to the economies and creating harmonious global communities. Expats that The Bulletin spoke to came from countries as diverse as the United Kingdom, Egypt, China, the Philippines and Australia. They all said they were very happy to be working there, as besides the excellent career opportunities, people were welcoming and had a truly international mindset. 

This was very evident during our visit to the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), where Dr Ray Johnson, CEO of TII, introduced the work of the park before handing the floor to Prof. Enrico Natalizio, Chief Researcher, to show members around some of TII’s core projects. 

 

Abu Dhabi: The UAE Capital

Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate and the capital of the UAE. It also has set ambitious growth targets, including diversifying its economy away from oil and gas. We were lucky to spend half a day at a fantastic reception hosted by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where we met very senior business figures as well as heard from officials about business opportunities and the advantages companies setting up there can enjoy. 

Mission leader Lamport promoted the advantages of Hong Kong’s business environment, while Yue gave a speech on the opportunities that the Belt & Road Initiative offers. The visit to the Chamber was capped off with a networking luncheon for members to relax and meet with local businesspeople. 

 

Sharjah: An Industrial Hub

The final stop on the itinerary was Sharjah, the third-largest of the seven emirates, and home to one of the largest industrial zones. This was evident from the number of manufacturers showcasing their products at the exhibition centre in the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce. Members later learned about doing business and setting up in Sharjah, which offers a wide range of incentives and has a lower cost of living than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. 

We also went on a tour of Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), which focuses on promoting research, technology, and innovation in fields like healthcare, energy, environment and technology. Like many of the places we visited, it was a melting pot of nationalities and cultures, all collaborating to turn their innovation and business ideas into reality. 

The Chamber wishes to thank the Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association for the huge support provided for the mission, and the Hong Kong Ambassadors Club. 

 

MEMBERS’ IMPRESSIONS

 

Serving Visitors’ Needs 

“On my trip to the Middle East with the HKGCC delegation, I noticed very strong interest in doing business with Hong Kong and the GBA. In order to enhance ties with Middle Eastern countries, Hong Kong needs more halal dining options as well more prayer facilities in the city centre, tourist spots, airport and train terminals. Singapore, Thailand and other destinations have already done this, so they are attracting more Middle East businesses as well visitors. Hong Kong is lagging far behind in this regard. Businesses from the Middle East could also be given incentives to set up retail stores in Hong Kong and the GBA to promote their products and services.”

Zaman Minhas Qamar, CEO, AMSUS HK Ltd

 

 

Building Strong Networks 

“Through this trip, we have established a strong network with companies in various sectors in Bahrain and the UAE. We also had opportunities to meet government officials and regional business chambers, many of whom were very willing to assist us set up or invest there. For companies like us who are interested in starting their business in the Middle East, they are vital contact points and can help solve most issues. Most importantly, they welcome us.”

Kelven Lit, Director, Censpot Trading Corp Ltd

 

Top

Over the years, we have helped businesses overcome adversity and thrive locally, in Mainland China and internationally.

If you want to take advantage of our network,insights and services, contact us today.

VIEW MORE