Abu Dhabi: King Juan Carlos of Spain stressed his interest in deepening ties with the UAE and the GCC at an economic forum held in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
“The important official and business delegation that has come with me to Abu Dhabi today shows that the United Arab Emirates is at the top of our political and economic agenda,” said the King, who is also the Spanish head of state.
“Your economy has become one of the fastest growing markets for Spanish exporters of goods and services, and the same is true for Emirati exports to Spain. Flows in both directions have increased by 55 per cent since 2011, bringing our total bilateral trade to €2.4 billion [Dh12.19 billion) last year.”
The king’s visit is expected to focus on boosting trade and investment as Spain struggles to grow its economy and generate jobs after emerging from a double-dip recession last year. In 2013, Spanish exports to the UAE increased by 33 per cent to reach €2 billion.
King Carlos was accompanied by a delegation that included representatives of leading Spanish companies, as well as four Spanish ministers — Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defence Minister, Minister of Industry and Minister of Public Affairs.
Javier Canals, spokesman of the household of the king, told reporters that many infrastructure companies in Spain are interested in investing in the region.
“Most of the Spanish companies [that deal with] infrastructure are very interested in getting contracts here in this area because there’s a boom here in constructing, and all kinds of infrastructure, like the train from Mekka to Medina [in Saudi Arabia] that was won by a Spanish company,” he said.
The king’s visit to the UAE marks his first trip outside Europe since he underwent hip replacement surgery in November. As part of his six-nation trip, the Spanish king will also be visiting Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar over the next few months.