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Deals surge as trade between Spain and UAE increases

Elie Khouri UAE Spain trade Creative Commons/RamiMansour
Vivium Holding's founder and CEO Elie Khouri said the partnership with Kettal aims to 'redefine luxury outdoor living'
  • UAE-Spain imports up 30% in January and February 2023
  • Cars, ceramics and aluminium among most traded goods
  • Spain was UAE’s third largest European partner in 2022

Barcelona outdoor furniture brand Kettal will enter the UAE luxury living market next year in an agreement with family office Vivium Holding, as UAE-Spain trade rose sharply in early 2023.

Vivium Holding will exclusively distribute Kettal’s premium collections, with plans to open a flagship store in the UAE in 2024.

Elie Khouri, founder and CEO of Vivium Holding, said the partnership aims to “redefine luxury outdoor living”.

It’s the latest deal in a growing UAE-Spain non-oil trade and investment story which exceeded $2.6 billion in 2022 and has risen further this year, according to Spain’s Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Tourism

The ministry said exports rose 22 percent to $332 million in January and February while imports increased by 30 percent to $192 million, with cars, ceramics and aluminium among the most traded goods.

Earlier this month, Madrid-listed Tubacex Group signed a land lease agreement to build a manufacturing facility in Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi to create stainless-steel tubular products for the energy market, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2024.

CEO Jesús Esmorís said Tubacex would supply a key component needed for the UAE to meet its increasing natural gas production targets.

Tubacex Group UAE Spain tradeTubacex Group
Tubacex Group’s Abu Dhabi manufacturing facility will create stainless-steel tubular products for the energy market

In March, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of state for foreign trade, met Xiana Mendez, secretary of state for trade at the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, to discuss strengthening economic cooperation.

“The Spanish market is a key global market that enjoys special attention from the UAE’s business community,” Al Zeyoudi said. 

Spain became the UAE’s third biggest European partner in 2022, receiving 8 percent of the UAE’s total non-oil exports to EU countries. 

The UAE’s total investments in Spain reached about $3.8 billion by the end of 2021, while Spanish foreign direct investment in the UAE totalled $72 million by the end of 2020, he added.

Adia Lab, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority-backed centre dedicated to cutting-edge research, has chosen Spain as a base for its expansion into Europe. 

The Spanish government signed an agreement to establish a European headquarters for Adia Lab in Granada as well as launch five research programmes with Spanish universities and research institutions.

Carme Artigas, secretary of state for digitalisation and artificial intelligence, described the arrival of Adia Lab’s European headquarters to Spain as a “milestone” in the country’s national artificial intelligence strategy.

Dubai’s Sunset Hospitality Group is also targeting growth in Spain and will launch its Azure Beach, Ammos and Isola Ristorante Italiano brands in the south of the country later this year. 

Sunset Azure Beach hotel MarbellaSunset Hospitality Group
The Azure Beach hotel in Marbella, owned by Dubai’s Sunset Hospitality Group

The trade and enterprise freezone Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) also wants to boost business ties with Spain, holding the Made For Trade Live 2023 roadshow in Barcelona earlier this year.

Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of DMCC, said that around 50 Spanish companies have set up at DMCC in recent years.

“Spain remains one of our priority markets for 2023 and beyond as we look to expand our support for Spanish businesses and attract further investment to Dubai,” he said.

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