(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Â As the bus of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry's trade mission delegation rolled out of Tashkent International Airport, the eyes of the people in the area followed it. Standing out - and arguably largely unnoticed - were two young girls; one of them gave a bashful smile and waved towards the vehicle.
Welcome to our country, it's nice to have you here, as if she was saying.
The second leg of the Dubai Chamber's trade mission to the CIS took it to Uzbekistan, a quiet nation of about 30 million people, yet - on the other hand - is beginning to make noise on the trade and investment fronts.
"Dubai will always be open for discussing ways to enhance cooperation and promote trade," Hamad Buamim, director-general of the Dubai Chamber, told the audience during the Uzbekistan-UAE Business Forum entitled "Connecting Dubai and the CIS".
In his presentation at the gathering, Buamim showcased investment opportunities in Dubai, as well as areas of cooperation that hold potential such as trade, logistics, construction, real estate, hospitality, tourism, agriculture and food industry.
Buamim stressed that Dubai and Uzbekistan have a wide scope to benefit from each other's commonalities, and the emirate is ready to invest in the CIS country.
"Events like these will help us determine where we can cooperate and what we can do next," he said.
In his opening remarks, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of the Dubai Chamber and head of the trade mission, said that Uzbekistan is an ideal entry point to the rest of the CIS and its nearby states, while emphasising that the Dubai delegation's objective was to build a strong relationship with the entire region.
During the forum, Dr Alisher Shaykhov, chairman of the Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged UAE companies to invest in Uzbek markets.
"There are a lot of opportunities here," he said. "Uzbekistan will offer investors a good investment ground and good returns." Looking at Dubai's economic model, Dr Shaykhov said that he has always admired this and is looking into emulating it and benefit from the emirate's experience, especially in the establishment of free zones.
Aside from the Uzbekistan Chamber, the forum also featured Uzinfoinvest, the country's information support and foreign investment promotion agency. Its deputy director, Djamshid Abdurakhimov, cited the Navoi Free Zone Airport as an example of investment; its capacity on the first and second phases is targeted at 300 and 1,000 tonnes, respectively.
The Dubai Chamber trade mission also held a meeting with Elyor Ganiev, Uzbekistan's Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Investment and Trade. He termed the visit as a "milestone" and a key step towards fostering better ties with Dubai and the UAE.
"We are grateful for your time here and we hope that there will be more visits from your side," he said at a roundtable meeting at the ministry.
Having concluded the business forum earlier, Buamim informed the minister that the event was a success, which led to parties from both sides discussing areas of interest, as well the opening of direct flights between the two states and the easing of visa procedures.
Hisham Al Abdullah Al Shirawi, second vice-chairman of the Dubai Chamber and chairman of Economic Zones World, during the meeting urged Uzbek companies to benefit from Dubai's experience in managing free zones through short- or long-term plans or through bilateral agreements.
"We are very much interested in doing business with you and we are very much open to exchanging ideas to progress on this," Ganiev said.
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