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UAE a beacon of stability: Jersey Chief Minister

posted on 13/03/2006: 611 views

Jersey is eager to draw on the UAE's impressive success in tourism, education, economic growth and political stability, according to the top official of the British Channel Island.

"We are extremely impressed with the way UAE is developing and we look upon it as a beacon of hope, confidence, business and political stability and a huge success story. We are down here both to attract new business and, as always, to learn from UAE experience," said Senator Frank Walker, Chief Minister of Jersey, who is leading a top-level delegation on a visit to the country.

Jersey, a self-governing dependency of the British crown, is a major international finance centre with at least 200 billion US Dollars under management, a substantial amount of which comes from the GCC countries, including the UAE.

Walker, who is on his fourth visit to the country, praised the warm welcome the delegation is receiving here and the growing level of cooperation between the UAE and Jersey.

"The UAE and the region as a whole is a very valued area for Jersey's finance industry. We have a considerable amount of business undertaken on behalf of private individuals and companies and corporate structure. In fact, the fact that we are now making our fourth visit in five years reflects how much importance we attach to that business and the region generally." Every time we come here, he continued, "We get a very warm welcome.

Now we are better known here. It has certainly become easier to talk business prospects, to conduct business and to develop new business all the time. There is a considerable amount of new business springing up and we are looking to develop that as far as we can." Referring to tourism as a key area of interest, Walker said he was particularly impressed by the development made in Abu Dhabi in that sector.

"We are very pleased with the relationship we have built here. I would like to see us look more at cooperation in tourism. It is of great interest to us how Abu Dhabi is developing its tourism.

We in Jersey are looking to further develop our tourism industry and other light industries. This visit is an opportunity to learn more what is happening in UAE and the approach being adopted is very helpful to us." Already has six companies with offices in Dubai, Jersey's financial services industry is seriously considering representation in Abu Dhabi as well to tap into its fast-paced growth witnessed.

"The Jersey financial services industry is very keen to establish offices in Abu Dhabi. There are opportunities here both for Abu Dhabi citizens and companies and trusts to develop in Jersey.

The Abu Dhabi market is growing very quickly and we want Jersey's presence to grow with it, leading to a further flow of investments into the island." Walker identified education as another area of potential cooperation with the UAE.

"During my last visit, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, took me on a very instructive visit to the Higher Colleges of Technology. We learned from that, because we have much to do in that regard in Jersey.

It is all about identifying opportunities, learning and sharing." On what Jersey can offer to the UAE and GCC countries, Walker said that the island possesses 50 years of experience in financial services and a worldwide reputation for stability and good regulation.

"When you have been in business for that long, you build up a very strong level of experience, quality and ability in bankers, lawyers and fund managers. We can offer a great deal since there is very close understanding, cooperation and recognition that our laws are good. We learn from each other. There are many private individuals and companies in the UAE taking advantage of opportunities available there such as bank deposits, fund structure, trust structure while one of our companies has recently launched an innovative Islamic financing hedge funding financial structure." Jersey, says Walker, offers many interesting possibilities in corporate structures, particularly for oil and gas companies.

Senator Philip Ozouf, Jersey's Minister of Economic Development, including tourism, added that substantial investments by UAE citizens represented an important part of Jersey's economy.

"We are discussing with some UAE banks the possibility of building more physical presence in the island which is not only active in terms of trust but also banking. Jersey is a place that is open for business. We would welcome the arrival of more UAE banks.

I am sure that they will meet our touch regulatory criteria, one of which is that they have to be numbered among the world's top 500 banks." "We are tax neutral, obviously a clear advantage for taxation planning. There is also a high level of sophistication in terms of quality of services. We have a very well-established legal system and well-regulated financial service sector and we are very proud of that." He also said that Jersey was looking forward to become a centre for international business dispute settling.

Ozouf said the delegation members were impressed by the progress made by the UAE in tourism.

"Certainly we can learn from the UAE tourism experience. We are impressed by the quality of accommodation hotels and hospitality offerings here. We are seeing new investments in hotels. There are opportunities for UAE residents to come and visit us, which we would welcome very much." "Our tourism is evolving. Jersey is the preferred location for British visitors coming to spend summer holidays, but we want to develop new markets. Our small island is a microcosm of everything that one can see in a big place, be it green countryside, golden beaches, temperate climate and environment." "There are ten flights a day from London regional airports. It only takes 35 minutes. It is within UK passport areas. There are no further immigration requirements. There are also great places for conference facilities and conference hotels. It is a great place to hold meeting for executives. We would like to see more UAE citizens coming there. There are big investment opportunities in residential apartments. There are going to be between 600 hundred to 1,000 new apartments to be built just around waterfront alone which are available to international investors and that something we would also welcome," explained Ozouf.

The delegation met today (Sunday) with Sultan Nasser Al Suwaidi, Governor of the UAE Central Bank, to discuss areas of collaboration in the finance industry, and also met yesterday (Saturday) with Minister of Economy Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi. They leave tomorrow (Monday) for Dubai, on the final leg of their four-stop, three-country Gulf tour, which has also included visits to Bahrain and Qatar. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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