Sunday, 15 May 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Sends Letter of Condolence Over Death of UAE President

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday sent a letter of condolence following the death of the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who died on Friday, the government said.

"The United Arab Emirates has lost a great man and serious statesman, who worked for the benefit of his people and country with foresight and commitment," Plenković said.

"Our thoughts are with the royal family and the friendly people of the United Arab Emirates, whom I offer sincere condolences and deep sympathy," Plenković added.

Sheikh Khalifa, born in 1948, came to power in the richest emirate, Abu Dhabi, in 2004 and became UAE President. He was succeeded on Saturday by his half-brother, Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has been widely seen as the de-facto leader of the rich Gulf monarchy.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Croatian Food Companies Hope High Quality Will Help Conquer Emirates

March the 12th, 2022 - Croatian food companies are hoping to come out on top and rely on their high quality products as they attempt to break into the extremely demanding Emirates market.

As Novac/Jutarnji/Vladimir Zrinjski writes, more than half a million people walked through the huge Expo complex in Dubai last Sunday. The endless queues in front of the national pavilions were becoming more and more frequent a sight as it all drew to a close, and as tourists were busy studing the various technological advances from around the world, Croatian companies were networking and making new deals.

On the top floor of the building overlooking the bulky Al Wasl dome, a Croatia-Dubai business forum was held, organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), with about a hundred representatives of Croatian companies from across various sectors. Earlier contacts and commitments were deepened and the ground was being prepared for new collaborations, and the Gulf perspective for Croatian companies is particularly bright in the food industry.

For obvious climatological reasons, the United Arab Emirates is highly dependent on food imports, and it is estimated that up to 50 percent of imports of these products are destined for re-export to the Middle East, Asian and African countries. At the same time, large retail chains tend to bypass local importers and distributors and facilitate administration and logistics for exporters (for example, sharing space in containers), which reduces overall costs.

Apple exports, in which Middle Eastern countries currently account for about 14 percent, could prove to be a particularly fruitful niche. The prices of apples in Croatian export terms to that part of the world are more than three times higher than the prices towards the European Union and surrounding non-EU European countries.

The delegation also included Tihomir Peraic, the director of Fragaria, which has been present on the market of the Emirates and neighbouring countries, such as Oman and Saudi Arabia, for years through the export of apples.

''With the arrival of the global coronavirus pandemic and the difficulties with transport it created, which coincided with severe frost damage, everything stopped. This was an opportunity to renew contacts with existing customers and try to find some new ones,'' he explained.

Fragaria already has a contract with the LuLu Group, which has hypermarkets in all of the countries which make up the Arabian Peninsula, as well as with some smaller retailers from the Emirates and Oman, but says there is no relaxation to be enjoyed there because the competition is "terrible" to contend with.

''Nobody can really compete with the Poles in terms of prices, and the French have traditionally dominated this field through Carrefour and other chains, as have the Italians. There is potential, but we need to fight and look for an opportunity to position ourselves with quality,'' added Peraic when discussing Croatian food companies and their chances.

Martina Pernar Skunca, the marketing manager of Paska Sirana on the island of Pag, a company that has also probed the market in Dubai, pointed out the two main advantages of the "business to business" conversation at the forum:

''Apart from being able to open ourselves up to a new market, these types of talks are also an opportunity to connect among the businessmen themselves. We had a few meetings in Dubai, some of them were very specific, so we hope to do business here as well,'' she said.

For more on Croatian food companies and other enterprises, check out our business section.

Monday, 7 March 2022

Dubai Business Forum Attended by Around 100 Companies from Croatia, UAE

7 March 2022 - The Dubai-Croatian Business Forum, held as part of Croatia Day at Dubai Expo 2020 on Sunday, brought together around 100 companies from Croatia and the United Arab Emirates, with energy, industry and construction companies, as well as IT and food companies being dominant in the Croatian delegation.

The forum was organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with HGK president Luka Burilović noting that "adaptability and resourcefulness are critical to the survival of business, notably in the current circumstances."

The Croatian business delegation included representatives of Končar and Rimac Automobili, the IT companies Geld Data and Poslovna Inteligencija, as well as the Podravka and Paška Sirana food companies.

Trade between Croatia and the UAE has been growing in the past few years. In 2020 and 2019 Croatia's exports to that country totalled US$ 70 million, and the trend continued in 2021 as well, with trade amounting to $63 million in the first eleven months of that year.

In previous years exports totalled half the amount of exports in the recent years, around $30 million.

Croatia mostly exports electrical transformers to the UAE, and they account for 40% of all exports to that country.

Burilović said that one of the current challenges, requiring adaptability and resourcefulness, was business sustainability.

"The most important thing that we have to change in that regard is the perception and vision of the future because only those companies that prepare on time and adapt to the challenges of the green transition will be competitive," he said.

The Croatian business delegation also included businesses offering products in the area of sustainable development and renewables, with the HGK noting that Dubai Chamber vice-president Faisal Belhoul confirmed openness to cooperation and support in the UAE market.

The forum was also attended by Croatian PM Andrej Plenković, who said the event provided a unique opportunity for intercultural and business cooperation.

"Many Croatian companies contribute to and promote our cooperation, including Infobip, Podravka, Končar, Đuro Đaković, HS Produkt and others," he said as carried by the HGK.

Dubai Expo 2020 is taking place from October 2021 to the end of March 2022. It has brought together states, multilateral organisations, companies and educational institutions, with 192 countries presenting their products. An estimated 25 million visitors are expected to attend, of whom 70% are international guests and 30% local.

Originally scheduled for 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021, Dubai Expo 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being postponed, organisers kept the name Expo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes.

The theme of the event is "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future", with three subthemes: opportunity, mobility and sustainability.

The World Expo event is marking its 170th anniversary.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Burj Khalifa Shines in Colours of Croatian Flag

Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, was dressed in colours of the Croatian flag. This is how Dubai welcomed Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić, who is visiting the largest city of the United Arab Emirates, reports Večernji List on March 13, 2019.

Bandić is supposed to meet there with Mayor Dawood Abdul Rahman al-Hajiri, and Mohamed Alabbar, owner of Eagle Hills, who will realise the City in the City project in Zagreb, also known as the so-called Zagreb Manhattan. The delegation travelled to Dubai upon receiving an invitation from al-Hajiri.

Bandić posted a photo of the Burj Khalifa in the colours of the Croatian flag on Facebook. “When Dubai is lit in Croatian colours... Greetings to my beloved Zagreb and all of Croatia!” Bandić wrote.

130319-Burj Khalifa1.jpeg

The city authorities opted for Alabbar's offer last week, deciding it was better than the one sent by the concessionaire of Zagreb Airport, which also wanted to develop the area. Although the mayor said that the decision was not final, according to unofficial information he is in Dubai to negotiate and sign a memorandum of interest.

The new project will be developed at a one million square metres area bounded by the Sava river, Većeslav Holjevac Avenue, Dubrovnik Avenue and Cimermanova Street. Mayor Bandić supposedly likes the type of project that Mohamed Alabbar’s Eagle Hills is already developing as part of the Belgrade Waterfront.

There is no detailed information about the Zagreb project, since there are a number of steps which need to be done before the construction can begin, and the main one is amendments to the city urban planning documents. What could be agreed in Dubai is how the partnership between the city authorities and Eagle Hills will work, who will invest how much in the project and how the potential profits will be split. Mohammed Alabbar has already talked with Bandić in Zagreb, and they will now meet again in Dubai.

“Everything we have done in these 19 years pales in comparison with what will happen there”, said the mayor in mid-February talking about the "Zagreb Manhattan". The project is expected to be worth between a billion and a billion and a half kuna and more information should be known in a month to two.

This is just one of Mayor Bandić’s major projects which he has announced during 19 years of his rule, but many of them have never moved beyond the initial phase.

More news about the Zagreb mayor can be found in the Politics section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Mateja Šobak).

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

UAE Company Eagle Hills Selected for Zagreb Development Project

ZAGREB, March 6, 2019 - Eagle Hills, a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been selected as a possible partner for the "City within the City" development project in Zagreb, the Zagreb mayor's office said in a press release on Wednesday.

The commission responsible for examining letters of intent found that this company has the best references for future cooperation because of the way its projects treat urban zones.

The commission received three offers, two of which met the requirements of the public call, these being Bouygues Batiment International from France and Eagle Hills from the United Arab Emirates. References provided by the latter company prove its extraordinary experience in development projects relating to urban regeneration in fast-growing cities, the press release said.

The next step should be agreeing the wording of a memorandum of understanding and its signature.

Jutarnji List daily said on Tuesday that Eagle Hills includes a group of investors from Abu Dhabi who are behind the "Belgrade Waterfront" project. The company is run by Mohamed Alabbar, the founder of Emaar Properties, which among other things owns the Burj Khalifa skyscraper and the Dubai Mall, and its representatives have attended municipal government meetings in Zagreb.

The purpose of the "City within the City" project is to transform the area of 1.1 million square metres covering the Zagreb Trade Fair complex and the Hippodrome horse racing venue "into a new innovative mixed-use urban zone for various complementary purposes".

The call for expression of interest said that Novi Zagreb, the part of Zagreb south of the River Sava, does not have sufficient public, social, cultural, entertainment, commercial, sports and recreational facilities to meet the needs of its 120,000 residents, and that the planned project would improve the overall quality of life in the city.

More Zagreb news can be found in the dedicated section.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Croatian Companies Exhibiting at Largest Defence Industry Show in Abu Dhabi

ZAGREB, February 18, 2019 - Several Croatian companies are presenting their products at the IDEX defence industry exhibition in Abu Dhabi from February 17 to 21, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Monday. The Croatian companies exhibiting at the world's largest defence industry show are Šestan Busch, Galeb, Agencija Alan, DOK-ING, Odjeća and Čateks.

One of the novelties of the exhibition is that it includes more and more dual-purpose products, or those that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, the HGK said.

The HGK vice-president for industry and energy, Tomislav Radoš, said that Croatian defence companies are known as reliable suppliers of high quality products and that their exports exceed 100 million euro.

"Imports of goods designed for military use and non-military ordnance were reduced from 70 million euro in 2016 to 27 million euro in 2017. Recently, 34 domestic producers signed 314 million kuna (42.4 million euro) worth of military equipment procurement agreements for the Croatian armed forces. This speaks enough of the quality and standards that our producers have reached," Radoš said.

The IDEX show is expected to attract 1,200 exhibitors, 170 official delegations and over 100,000 visitors from some 60 countries.

More news on defence issues in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Croatia to Take Part in Dubai EXPO 2020

ZAGREB, July 30, 2018 - Croatia has selected and signed a rental agreement for a pavilion at the EXPO 2020 fair in Dubai which will be held between 1 October 2020 and 10 April 2021, the Tourism Ministry said in a press release on Monday.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Croatia's Tourism Presented in Dubai

ZAGREB, April 24, 2018 - The Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ) has been presenting Croatia's tourism services at the Arabian Travel Market which, this year is celebrating 25 years as the leading global event for the Middle East travel industry.

Monday, 23 April 2018

EXPO 2020 in Dubai to Help Croatian Companies Do Business in UAE

ZAGREB, April 23, 2018 - Potential for economic cooperation between Croatia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is great, and the EXPO 2020 which will be held in Dubai will serve as a good opportunity for the promotion of Croatian companies in the country, Ivan Barbarić of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said at a Croatia-UAE forum in Zagreb.