Last week Lt. Governor Habib led a Washington State delegation on a six-day trade mission to the United Arab Emirates to promote job growth in Washington’s critical trade dependent industries, elevate local businesses in key international markets, and encourage foreign direct investment into the state.
The trade mission, organized in coordination with the Washington State Department of commerce and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle included a delegation of businesses pursuing opportunities in aerospace, clean energy, entrepreneurship, and smart city technology. Local government representatives including Pierce County Councilmember Pam Roach, and Snohomish County Executive Director Kendee Yamaguchi also attended participated as delegates.
The delegation began their trip at the Dubai Airshow, where the delegation’s fourteen aerospace-related businesses joined the Department of Commerce to exhibit as part of the United States Pavilion during the four-day trade show. Currently the second largest, and fastest growing, airshow in the world, the 2017 Dubai Airshow featured 1,103 exhibitors from 63 countries and drew over 66,000 visitors.
While at the airshow, Lt. Governor Habib met with executives at multiple companies, including Strata, a composites aero-structures manufacturing company that supplies the world’s leading aerospace companies, including Boeing and Airbus, and is looking to expand its manufacturing operations into the United States.
Lt. Governor Habib and the delegation joined the Washington State-based Boeing Company for the announcement of an historic $15.1 billion deal with Emirates Air, who will purchase 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners.
While in Abu Dhabi, the delegation met with multiple organizations focused on strengthening international trade and cooperation between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and advancing opportunities for investment and business development between both countries. These included the American Chamber of Commerce in Abu Dhabi, the US-UAE Business Council, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
The delegation closed out the mission in Dubai, with several days of meetings focused on promoting Washington state as the premier site for foreign investment and bilateral partnership in the areas of higher education, cloud computing, and clean energy.
The United Arab Emirates, in an effort to diversify their economy and move away from their historic dependence on oil and gas, has made significant global investments in clean energy research and development. As a leader in the development of clean technology solutions, Washington state is a natural partner for the United Arab Emirates as they expand their clean energy capabilities.
While in Dubai, the delegation met with Masdar, a leading renewable energy company whose mission is to invest in renewable energy and clean technology globally. Masdar operates several business units that together merge higher education, research, finance, and development of large-scale renewable energy projects and sustainable communities. While visiting the campus, the delegation had the opportunity to tour one product of Masdar’s initiative—Masdar City. Masdar City is the first carbon-free city in the world, and serves as a living pilot project and testing facility for sustainable development solutions and smart city innovations. Masdar City is also an economic free zone, where over 500 companies from around the globe operate.
The delegation also visited the Jebel Ali Free Zone, or JAFZA, the largest economic free zone in the world, and a base for over 7000 global companies, to discuss opportunities for Washington state companies to expand their Middle East operations.
With Amazon’s recent acquisition of Souq.com, the largest e-commerce platform in the Middle East region, the United Arab Emirates is emerging as a significant market, not just for expanded e-commerce business, but for Amazon’s other business units, most notably cloud services. The Washington state delegation met with Souq founder and Chief Operating Officer Wisam Daoud, and Head of International Expansion at Amazon, Crain Trudgeon, at the Souq headquarters in Dubai to hear about the company’s plans for global expansion, and to discuss how Washington state, as the global headquarters of cloud computing, can partner with Souq to help meet the fast emerging cloud services and data storage needs of the region.
While in Dubai, Lt. Governor Habib also led meetings with several high level dignitaries, including United States Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Barbara Leaf, and His Excellency Muhammed Abdulla Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.
Coming on the heels of visits to Canada, China, and South Korea earlier this year, this weeks’ trade mission to the United Arab Emirates is the fourth international delegation led by the Lt. Governor’s office since taking office in January. With one in four jobs directly linked to international trade, Washington state is ranked as the most trade-dependent state in the nation. For that reason, Lt. Governor Habib has made connecting Washington businesses with international investment opportunities central to his office’s economic development mission, and has led a series of domestic economic development tours and international trade missions to serve that objective, including missions this year to four of the state’s top five trade partners.