ABU DHABI, 4th March 2014 (WAM) - The 6th Global Financial Markets Forum, organised by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), was opened today at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development said the two-day forum, which attracted the world's leading experts and decision makers, had bolstered UAE's image.
In the opening speech of Nasser Ahmed Al Suweidi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and Board Chairman of the NBAD, delivered on his behalf by Dr. Al Tahir Musabah Al Kindi, he said the forum provides a dynamic and interactive platform for discussing the major issues of financial sectors.
Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Global Market said in his speech the forum will witness many discussions about the growing importance of investment flows and commerce travelling from West to East. For the UAE, this is already a path well-worn. In fact our relationship with Asia has been ongoing for centuries. "It was the triangular lateen sail, pioneered by Arabs, that gave maritime travelers the courage to sail closer to the wind, enabling them to cross the Indian Ocean. And it was our ancestors innovative system of navigation, based on astronomy, that allowed them to learn the east-west line from studying the arc of the moon," he said. There is also evidence of long distance maritime commerce between the land making up the UAE and India and Pakistan starting from 3,000 BC. Sailors from our region successfully traveled to China as far back as 2,000 years ago. And on our own soil here, archeological sites have uncovered fragments of imported oriental pottery from China, Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam. "We are very proud of the way we sustained ourselves and our neighbors, in peace, based on mutual respect for different cultures and interests. Without the wider horizon of Asia and Africa, the UAE would not have prospered in the past. This blueprint of exchange between the UAE and the world beyond continues to the present, and promises to grow in the future as this country becomes an even greater influential hub for global commerce, he added. Speaking about Abu Dhabi s ambition for a global financial centre and why the forthcoming development of Abu Dhabi Global Market is a natural next step for the Emirate and the UAE, Al Sayegh said in 2008, consistent with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and with the support of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and now Vice-Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the Government published its Economic Policy for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The 2030 Economic Policy called for an industry clustering strategy based on sectors in which Abu Dhabi has a natural competitive advantage or an existing base or a critical mass of assets. "As a result, we have seen sectors such as real estate and tourism, aviation, logistics, energy, and media among others - begin to flourish. A healthy financial services sector is not only identified as one of the nine pillars in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, but as illustrated in major cities globally, it is an integral component to developing and sustaining a diversified economy. The Emirate has a robust and successful finance heritage with a well-diversified portfolio across asset classes, geographies and sectors that all share the same deliberate and long term view of investment." This includes entities such as ADIA. For almost 40 years, ADIA has practiced prudent investing that looks beyond economic cycles to deliver sustained, long term financial returns. The Abu Dhabi Investment Council, established in 2007, has gained a similar reputation for its globally-diversified investment strategy. IPIC, established in 1984, which invests in the hydrocarbons and related sectors across the globe, in December reported total assets of almost US$65 billion. Mubadala is another example. As an active investor for more than a decade with a portfolio valued at more than US$55 billion, Mubadala the Arabic word for exchange is an integral agent in the diversification of Abu Dhabi s economy. Recently named the "Safest Bank in the Emerging Markets" by Global Finance, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, incorporated in 1968, reported total assets of almost US$90 billion in 2013, an eight percent increase over the previous year. First Gulf Bank, with reported total assets of US$46 billion in 2012, has been building its international wholesale banking franchise since 2007. Today they have a network offices stretching from Libya to Hong Kong. These, he continued, and other investment vehicles, already act as Abu Dhabi s financial ambassadors in the world s major financial markets. Together, this portfolio is responsible for more than US$1 trillion of assets. And thanks to their commitment and success, Abu Dhabi s long-term policies towards economic investment have earned the Emirate a global reputation for strong returns, transparency and stability. "We have been guided by international standards of governance and accountability with investment teams who are equally comfortable operating in Abu Dhabi as they are on Wall Street, in the city of London or in Hong Kong. It was notably ADIA that co-led the development of the Santiago Principles which the world s Sovereign Wealth Funds are now applying. Our bilateral trade relationships are also a testament to the Emirate s and the UAE s global economic footprint." Al Sayegh went on to say: If we look to the East, our commerce is steadily increasing. In fact, research conducted by HSBC predicted that by the year 2030, the UAE s top export destinations will include India, China, Japan and Korea. India is already the UAE s largest trading partner with bilateral trade reaching an estimated US$75 billion in 2013. Established to enhance trade and investment flows between the two nations, the second meeting of the UAE-India Task Force is convening this week. 2012 trade figures between the UAE and China, according to customs statistics, totaled US$40.4 billion, with a reported 14% increase in the first half of 2013. Also of significance, approximately 60 percent of China s trade to the UAE is then re-exported to Africa and Europe, making the UAE a critical Gulf country for this Asian powerhouse. Japan was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the UAE following its Federation in 1971. The trading relationship between Japan and Abu Dhabi pre-dates even that critical moment in our history. Now, more than four decades later, the total annual value of trade between the UAE and Japan stands at approximately US$51.4 billion, with hydrocarbons playing a significant role. And there are numerous other examples of the importance of the UAE s role as a conduit for global trade. Establishing The Global Market on Al Mariah Island is, therefore, a natural next step in Abu Dhabi s role as a dependable and responsible participant in the global financial community. Al Sayegh spoke about Al Mariah Island, home to Abu Dhabi Global Market. Designated by the Urban Planning Council to be the capital's Central Business District or CBD - Al Mariah Island is a major catalyst in the city's drive to achieve Abu Dhabi's "Urban Structure Framework Plan" objective of environmental, economic and social sustainability by 2030. "Al Mariah Island will be many things to many people. For current and future residents of Abu Dhabi, it will offer a holistic model for urban living; As Abu Dhabi s new thriving CBD, it will welcome 75,000 working professionals; And for those in the finance sector from local entities to large multi-nationals - Al Mariah will be an industry cluster that allows them to operate in a tax-free environment as wholly-owned private entities.
With all of these powerful elements, it is easy to see how Al Mariah Island will be a dynamic hub. Within Al Mariah Island, Abu Dhabi Global Market will create a financial free zone that is part of the Abu Dhabi Government s long term vision for economic diversification. The Abu Dhabi Global Market aims to promote the Emirate as a leading market for financial services and activity across the world, and in doing so, further strengthen the international profile and position of the United Arab Emirates within the financial sector and more broadly. Abu Dhabi Global Market will develop as many other successful Abu Dhabi initiatives have - by exercising a deliberate approach in measurable phases that allows us to continually build upon our expertise and assets, and persistently grow - sustaining local, regional and international collaborations. Abu Dhabi Global Market will have its own judicial system and legislative infrastructure, under three independent Global Market authorities: Its Registration Bureau; A Financial Services Regulations Bureau And its own Court system.
The formation of these authorities is currently underway, as is the appointment of the Senior Management Team. The Global Market will be led by industry professionals who are familiar with how markets operate and evolve, and who fully understand the dynamics of trade, capital and investment flows among the world s leading financial centres. At the heart of Abu Dhabi and the Global Market is the premise of long-term partnership and collaboration locally, regionally and internationally. "To this end, over the past four months, we have initiated a comprehensive process of consultation with local and international stakeholders, seeking counsel and discussion on the strategic direction of this new entity. Locally, we sought the experience and feedback of senior executives from more than 20 UAE institutions, ranging from the Central Bank of the UAE and local banks to investment vehicles and other free zones. Internationally, we have gained valuable insights from International Financial Centers, including Singapore and the City of London. We were very pleased to recently welcome Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Fiona Woolf to our Global Market complex." as discussions are also underway with the global giants of the financial sector, he continued: "Overall, we are pleased to share that there is already strong support for this initiative.
Furthermore, there is an understanding that we have an opportunity to leverage the strengths of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. I very much agree with my colleague, DIFC Governor Essa Kazim, who believes that there are opportunities for two complementary financial hubs that will put the UAE at the centre of a regional economy covering the Middle East, Africa and South Asia."
He said that consultative discussions have also highlighted: The opportunity to foster an even more robust financial services sector in the UAE, based on characteristics inherent to Abu Dhabi and the UAE, such a significant investable wealth and assets locally and regionally; The potential for new investment areas derived from structural changes in the pensions and insurance markets in the UAE; The Emirate s abundance of natural resources, which can provide the basis for an active commodities market. "We are providing a robust, well-regulated platform enabling member companies to transact business within a tax-free environment and with the support of an internationally-recognised legal jurisdiction. The nature of the business transacted within The Global Market will, to an extent, be dynamic, determined by its members and evolve over time. These are some of the preliminary findings of the consultative process that is ongoing, and which will feed into the development of Abu Dhabi Global Market as we move forward, and ultimately, we believe, contribute fundamentally to its success. Please, we welcome your input. Another cornerstone for the Global Market will be its role as a place of education and training, where young people can learn and contribute to global best practices; where eager university graduates can build a network of global connectivity, and where we will create meaningful employment opportunities for UAE nationals. At the heart of the Global Market strategy is the same confidence that has been the over-riding factor in all of Abu Dhabi s efforts towards economic diversification. It is a confidence borne out of ambition rather than necessity. And, we will continue to take the time to put the right foundations in place to ensure a successful outcome. Today, based on the UAE s longstanding heritage and track record in the financial sector, we have the clear opportunity to create and become a leading global financial marketplace." He concluded his speech by saying: We will deliver a global financial centre within what will be Abu Dhabi s thriving CBD and it will be another manifestation of the UAE s unique international outlook and demographics."
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