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Shared Success: As Trade Relations Between Canada And The UAE Flourish, The Collaboration Is Creating Paths For Significant Growth The potential for collaboration between Canadian companies and their UAE counterparts, especially for SMEs and startups, is significant.

By Devina Divecha

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Amidst the ever-evolving landscape of international trade and investment, the relationship between Canada and the UAE looks to be a solid bond that continues to grow stronger with great potential for the future.

Take the figures alone, which are clear proof of the work being done between these two trade powerhouses. Statistics Canada's recent data reveals that bilateral trade between Canada and the UAE was up by 1.6% in the last year. This is certainly not a one-off; this trend is holding strong in 2023, with significant increases seen in just the first few months.

Furthermore, bilateral investment has also grown, with an impressive 9% increase in the last year. Lindsay Margenau, Counsellor (Commercial) and Senior Trade Commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai, says, "Canada sees tremendous opportunity in the UAE, as evidenced by a number of significant investments like the investment made by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) in DP World, and Brookfield Asset Management's recent purchase of Network International."

Dubai also recently released its 2022 foreign direct investment (FDI) figures that show more impressive news: Canada is the top source country for FDI capital, accounting for a staggering 41% of total flows. This can be attributed to the CDPQ investment, which underscores Canada's significant presence in the UAE's investment landscape.

What's particularly interesting about the Canada-UAE partnership is that it's not restricted to a singular industry; instead, it stretches across a range of sectors. In fact, the Consulate General's sectors of focus include infrastructure and services, clean technologies, oil and gas, health and life sciences, agriculture and agri-food, and consumer products.

Related: Startup Spotlight: Canada-Headquartered Opteam Brings Its AI-Powered Infrastructure Management Solutions To The UAE

Lindsay Margenau, Counsellor (Commercial) and Senior Trade Commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai. Image courtesy Consulate General of Canada in Dubai.

The potential for collaboration between Canadian companies and their UAE counterparts, especially for SMEs and startups, is significant, Margenau adds. Over the years, the UAE has solidified its position as a global trade and investment hub; in light of this, Canadian companies have come to view the UAE as a land of opportunity. "Our sense is that the UAE views Canada as a source of great technology and innovation, and is keen to partner with Canadian expertise and talent," she adds.

Looking ahead to the latter half of 2023, the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai has its sights set on several events and platforms to strengthen Canada's presence in the UAE. "The UAE's hosting of the 28th edition of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (COP28) is a priority for Canada," Margenau reveals. "Active participation will highlight Canada's ambitious climate commitments, leverage our international leadership on climate finance, and feature Canada's innovation in clean tech and energy."

Here, Margenau notes that sustainability is at the core of her nation's international mandate. "Canada and the UAE are in many ways aligned in our approach to the response to climate change," she notes. "We both have targets for Net Zero by 2050 and significant targets to hit to mitigate the effects of climate change."

Besides COP28, Canada is also set to participate in trade shows and business events like GITEX Global, ADIPEC, Dubai Airshow, Arab Health, and Gulfood, where it hopes to further generate opportunities for collaboration between both countries.

Related: Dubai Chamber Of Digital Economy And Entrepreneur Middle East Publish A Report On The Prospects Of The Dubai's Digital Economy

A scene from Canada. Image courtesy Consulate General of Canada in Dubai.

This collaboration touches the human resources sector as well. The UAE's dynamic environment has attracted over 40,000 Canadians, including entrepreneurs who have established businesses in the country. "Canadians in the UAE are fostering innovation; for example, building ecosystems to support the growth of other startups or mentor business leaders," Margenau says. "Canadians also bring Canadian talent to the market. A number of firms in the UAE, from large to small, value the talent that Canadians continue to demonstrate in leadership roles across a wide spectrum of fields."

The impact of Canadian education is also palpable, with Canadian curriculum schools as well as the acclaimed Canadian University Dubai offering high-quality education to UAE residents. Conversely, residents from the UAE are also looking towards Canada's world-class education system. "Canada offers world-class educational programs among its 200 colleges and 100 universities," Margenau says. "Increasingly, our schools are focusing their courses and programs on training in entrepreneurship, and residents of the UAE have taken note. In 2022, we received applications to study in Canada from roughly 5,000 UAE residents, which was double what we received in 2017, and the number continues to grow."

Canada is actively fostering people-to-people ties through air travel as well, which, in turn, pave the way for more entrepreneurial opportunities. An expanded air transportation agreement (ATA), signed in April 2023 between Canada and the UAE has led to increased direct flights between the two countries. This has seen a marked increase in routes linking Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. "These direct links allow for expanded business opportunities, tourism, and cultural understanding," Margenau adds.

In addition to growing collaborations, Canada is also committed to inclusive trade and trade diversification. "Trade works best when everyone benefits," Margenau explains. "Canada is advancing an inclusive approach to trade that seeks to ensure that the benefits and opportunities that flow from trade are more widely shared– including with those who have traditionally been under-represented in international trade and investment, including women, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and indigenous peoples."

As Canada and the UAE continue to strengthen their partnership, the stage is set for a future marked by innovation, collaboration, and shared success. "Canada seeks trade policies that are sustainable, transparent, and inclusive," Margenau concludes.

Related: Dubai's Growing Role in International Trade

Devina Divecha

Writer, editor, emcee, and media consultant

Devina Divecha is an independent writer, editor, emcee and media consultant, specialising in the hospitality and F&B industry. With more than 10 years of experience under her belt, her work has appeared in a number of publications including Skift, SUPPER, HOTELSmag, Destinations of the World News, Spinneys Magazine, Entrepreneur Middle East, and more. She holds a BSc in Business from the London School of Economics and an MA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield.

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