Abu Dhabi: H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, visited the startup incubator ‘Station F,’ the Airbus Innovation Center, and the headquarters of First Abu Dhabi Bank in France, during the UAE delegation’s official visit to the country. The visit is aimed at strengthening economic cooperation between the UAE and France in a wide array of key sectors, including renewable energy, tourism, aviation, entrepreneurship, AI, space, intellectual property, and circular economy.

During his visit to ‘Station F,’ H.E. Bin Touq was apprised of the innovative programs and initiatives offered by the incubator to support entrepreneurs and SMEs, especially those working in advanced technology fields, in addition to how the UAE’s entrepreneurship ecosystem can benefit from them.

The Minister of Economy highlighted that the UAE has an advanced economic environment that supports entrepreneurs and their innovative projects by providing them with all enablers for growth and prosperity within the UAE and beyond. These include a strong and flexible economic legislative system that ensures fair competition and equal access to available opportunities, as well as leading programs and initiatives that constantly develop and refine their skills in line with the demands of the future economy.

Furthermore, H.E Bin Touq underlined the Ministry of Economy’s keenness to support national efforts to develop entrepreneurship as one of the key pillars of the UAE’s new knowledge economy in light of the ‘We the UAE 2031’vision. To this end, the Ministry strives to facilitate easy financing for startups operating in the new economic sectors through cooperation with its strategic local, regional and global partners.

The UAE aims to become home to a total of one million SMEs by the year 2030. The number of SMEs registered in the country totaled 557,000 by the end of 2022. The sector currently accounts for 63.5 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil GDP, and the country has strengthened its leadership on the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) 2023 issued by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, for the second consecutive year, surpassing many countries to be the best destination for setting up businesses.

During his visit to the Airbus Innovation Center, one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial aircrafts, the Minister of Economy, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Civil Aviation Authority, attended a presentation detailing the company's history, plans, future projects, and latest innovations in the field of air transport.

H.E. Bin Touq said: “The series of accomplishments achieved by the UAE’s aviation sector has strengthened the country's position as a global leader in the aviation and travel sector, and a sustainable destination for major civil aircraft manufacturing and their sales subsidiaries. This can be attributed to the UAE’s advanced infrastructure and its airports that are the most advanced and developed in the region; national talent trained in line with the best standards in this field; flexible legislation; and forward-looking visions that continue to boost this vital sector’s development.”

Moreover, H.E. underlined the fruitful partnership the UAE’s civil aviation sector enjoys with Airbus, and its achievements that support the national aviation sector’s expansion to new markets, contributing to the growth of the national economy and creating more job opportunities.

The UAE’s aviation sector registered a record growth in terms of air traffic and passenger numbers through the country's airports. The country’s airports welcomed 62.79 million passengers in the first half of 2023, up 46 per cent from 43.02 million passengers in 2022. Additionally, air traffic in H1 2023 increased to 446,704 flights, compared to 359,900 in H1 2022, according to data from the General Civil Aviation Authority. The UAE's national carriers flew to nearly 552 destinations around the world, including joint destinations and cargo destinations, according to official data released by these carriers.

H.E. Bin Touq also visited the Abu Dhabi First Bank branch in France, where he was briefed about the bank's current programs and leading services it provides to the French private sector. He discussed the bank’s future expansion plans in France with the officials, highlighting its role in supporting economic cooperation in general and banking cooperation in particular between Abu Dhabi and Paris.

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