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Dubai World planning to expand presence in China

BY LUCIA DORE (Senior Correspondent) Khaleej Times

DUBAI The opportunities for strengthening co-operation between China and the UAE are immense, said Istithmar's CEO, David Jackson, speaking at the FT China- Middle East Summit held in Dubai yesterday. Istithmar is the investment banking arm of the Dubai government, and is owned 50/50 by the Corporate Office of Dubai and Dubai World.

Dubai World, one of the world's largest holding companies, is actively planning to expand further into China, he said. "There are several sectors where investments can be improved upon between China and Dubai. Tourism, for instance, holds great opportunities, with Nakheel already having a vital presence in the market. Another potential site of cooperation is education, especially universities, which may materialise sometime in the near future."

There are also good opportunities for co-operation in the financial services sector, said Jackson, pointing in particular to the venture capital, mortgage and securitisation industries. He described the logistics and distribution sector in China as a "challenge" and said this is an area where Dubai World could continue to bring its expertise to China.

Vincent Lo, Chairman and CEO of Shui On Land, a multi-million dollar real estate company, also spoke about the opportunities for co-operation between the Middle East and China in the country's booming real estate and construction industries. He said he had more potential projects than he could handle and that he was looking for partners to bring expertise to real estate projects in China. "With your expertise we can bring in the best from all over the world," he said, emphasising the detail and sophistication of Dubai's real estate projects.

Lo noted, however, that if the two regions wanted to strengthen co-operation and work together it was important to remember that "politics cannot sustain commercial relationships in the long-term" and called for greater efforts on behalf of trade bodies and associations to sustain them.

Abdallah Al-Dabbagh, president and CEO of Saudi Arabian mining company, Ma'aden, said the mining sector in his country was open to investment from Chinese companies. The industry is very young and requires a lot of investment, he said. Saudi has large mineral deposits - including gold, silver and zinc. Currently, Ma'aden has four gold mines, and will be opening one more in a month and another in one year's time.

He said greater co-operation between Saudi Arabia and China would create a "win-win situation" because both could build on their comparative advantage: Saudi as a country with a large mineral and petrol endowment and a small population and China with a large population and modest mineral and petroleum endowment.

China is set to become the world's largest consumer of energy over the next 15 years and both countries have huge infrastructure requirements. According to Dominic Barton, chairman, Asia Pacific, of consulting firm, McKinsey & Co China has $1 trillion of infrastructure needs over the next five years and Saudi Arabia has $650 billion of infrastructure needs over 10 years.



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