| 09 November, 2017

'Expo 2020 reflects shared UAE-France values'

French President Emmanuel Macron says common challenge of the region is to 'defend reason, tolerance and respect for each other'

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a news conference in Dubai, UAE, November 9, 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a news conference in Dubai, UAE, November 9, 2017.

REUTERS/Satish Kumar
Expo 2020 Dubai is "a great occasion" to launch new projects and defend the UAE's values similar to France's ambitions, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

Macron, whose two-day trip to the UAE is his first official visit, also said bilateral business and trade relations between countries will help develop young talents and stand in the face of terrorism and adversity.

Speaking during the UAE-France Business Forum in Dubai, Macron said Expo 2020 Dubai is similar to the values France is investing in when it comes to smart mobility and sustainability. He added the common challenge of the region is to "defend reason, tolerance and respect for each other".

"Culture and education is a huge part of this change and business and economy is another component of this challenge. Attracting talents, developing innovation through new sectors and building smart new cities is the best way to create a new openness to provide the right place for your people to deliver a world that we will develop all together," said Macron, who opened also the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

He noted that agreements signed with the UAE government send across the same message that the Louvre Abu Dhabi is sending to the world of openness and tolerance.

"What we are doing together is the best answer to those who propose to our youth crime and opposition," Macron told dignitaries and officials attending the forum.

Earlier in the day, Mubadala Investment signed a deal with French state-backed investment vehicles CDC International Capital and Bpifrance to invest up to ?1 billion in the French economy.

The forum saw the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority signing memoranda of understanding with both Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) and lectricit de France (EDF) to promote cooperation in developing and financing of the 800MW third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, as per the independent power producer model.

The Dewa also signed another MoU with EDF for a consultancy contract for the pumped-storage hydroelectric power station at Hatta Dam. Macron said such agreements, along with the historic partnership between Airbus, Emirates and Etihad Airways, will help create dialogue and develop the strength needed to face challenges.

"What we are trying to do now is launch new projects to create a new ambition for the 21st century, develop labour markets that adapt to new society of disruption and innovation. To invest 15 billion in vocational training and re-qualify them in a world of change. We are looking at ways to rebuild a new face of France in mobility and smart cities." Macron added that the reform agenda in France aims to make the country a leader in a new century with new challenges for our youth. "This project is in line with your project in this region. Challenge is with educating and training our young people and ensure that they have a place in the future and that this place makes sense to them," he said.

He noted that the ambition both countries and the world have is the right one - an ambition of success tolerance and humanism.

While France will support the UAE's vision, especially after developing the new agreements, Marcon said, "[we] hope that you will never stop in proposing pushing new projects and increasing your ambition year after year until 2020 and afterwards to make these projects a reality and create common success altogether".

The UAE's trade relationship with France has strengthened over the years, supported by trade agreements and high-level visits from both sides.

Non-oil trade between both countries amounted to $7.3 billion in 2016, marking a 14 per cent increase compared to 2011.

The country is home to many successful French businesses, and those registered with Dubai Chamber grow steadily to exceed 600.

Reem Ibrahim Al Hashemi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Managing Director of Expo 2020, said the bilateral relationship encourages openness to the world. She added that when the World Expo was held in France in 1889 and 1993, the country witnessed the birth of major monuments like the Eiffel Tower, a global symbol that attracts millions of visitors every year.

Similarly, Al Hashemi said she hopes Expo 2020 Dubai, the first to be held in the Middle East, will reach such levels and communicate the "essence of the nation".

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