What development issues do French companies face in the the Gulf?
A. L. C. France is in a “challenger” position, while some other countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and China already have very strong links with the Gulf states, for historical, economic or political reasons.
Nevertheless, French know-how is increasingly recognised in various sectors. There are many market opportunities, with around 60 million inhabitants in the 6 Gulf states, and also close to 2 billion people only a few hours away from the Dubai hub by plane.
"Economies in the Gulf region are speeding up their diversification, meaning that France has several cards to play here."
What are the strengths of French companies in the region?
A. L. C. After having lived off their oil income for a long time, the economies in the region are speeding up their diversification, meaning that France has several cards to play here.
While it has long been praised in the luxury, hospitality and food sectors, France also offers products and services that are soughtafter in other sectors, such as green energy, smart cities and health, that are in strong demand in the region.
Have new sectors emerged recently?
A. L. C. We have witnessed some very interesting developments, notably due to the pandemic. French people are in high demand due to their skills in the digital and e-commerce sectors.
Approximately thirty SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs have the French Tech label in the UAE. Hydrogen and solar energy diversification is also a prominent issue. According to the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 plan, 50% of the energy mix should come from renewable energies by 2050.
How are French companies working towards sustainability in the Emirates?
A. L. C. Sustainability and, more generally, corporate social responsibility, are hot topics in the region and notably in the UAE, where 200 nationalities rub shoulders. Some French companies are adapting their existing in-house programmes to local conditions.
Others are calling on local bodies such as the Dubai Chamber Sustainability Network, which helps foreign companies to implement energy efficiency programmes, or awareness-raising actions among employees. The local United Nations office does the same with the Global Compact initiative.