Georgia Becoming Increasingly Attractive for Citizens of the GCC Countries

Along with the expansion of our relations with the European Union, which was highlighted by the signature of the Association Agreement last year, Georgia is actively promoting its economic and investment interests in the East, including the Middle East. Broader importance is being attributed to our bilateral relations with the countries of Gulf Cooperation Council. The outlook is that Georgia needs to establish itself on the map and expand cooperation with the region, which may definitely have a substantial stake in the Georgian economy. It is crucial to note that the GCC countries have invariably supported Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity and promoted good and friendly relations with our country. Recent years have been marked with steps to invigorate our relations with the regional actors, while separate Embassies were opened in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the decision to establish our diplomatic missions in the UAE has been announced. Georgia is becoming increasingly attractive for citizens and expats of the GCC countries who come as tourists, private visitors and entrepreneurs looking for new impressions, options to diversify their leisure and also possibilities to invest. The liberalization of the visa regime with GCC states has made a positive impact on the increase of the flow of visitors. But the most important and effective are the high-level visits by the heads of state and government, which constitute the key opportunity to enhance relations and give impetus to business Representatives to make contacts, hold forums and explore investment options.

Last year was highlighted by the official visit of the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili to the United Arab Emirates, which served the purpose of reaffirming Georgia’s desire to enhance cooperation with this country and provide a favorable environment for bolstering economic and business relations and increase investments in the Georgian economy. Within the framework of the visit, that took place on 16-17 September, 2014, meetings were held with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktum, Ruler of Ras al-Khaima Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al-Kasimi as well as with Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and Chairman of the "Dhabi Group", which has substantial business interests and investments in Georgia. Together with members of the delegation, the Prime Minister held important meetings and discussions with the executives of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Abu-Dhabi Investment Authority, who expressed their readiness to promote investments and business projects in Georgia.

This visit spurred the number of follow-up visits to Georgia by the government high-ranking officials from UAE. In October, Minister of International Cooperation and Development of the UAE Sheikha Lubna Khalid al Qasimi came to Georgia to explore the current investment environment and business opportunities and particularly our capabilities of agricultural exports. In May Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, visited Georgia accompanied by a big group of officials and key business representatives from across the Emirates. During the visit, along with meetings with the Prime Minister Garibashvili and other members of the Cabinet, the UAE-Georgia Business Forum was organized between the corporate communities of the two countries, where various prospects for cooperation and investments were discussed. All these visits and contacts provided for invigorated activity of the Emirati businesses in Georgia and the ongoing construction of the luxury Millenium Hotel, which is a Dhabi Group project, already claims to become a landmark in the center of our capital.

Roland Beridze
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the State of Kuwait 
accredited to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman and United Arab Emirates