Investment Opportunities Exploration Conference: Towards business partnership and mutual development [Archives:2007/1044/Front Page]

April 23 2007

Moneer Al-Omari
SANA'A, April 22 ) Under the theme, “Toward Permanent and Joint Interests,” the Yemeni government, in collaboration with the Gulf Cooperation Council's General Secretariat, on Sunday launched the two-day Investment Opportunities Exploration Conference within the framework of developing Yemen's economy for complete integration with Gulf economies.

Attended by representatives of more than 650 Yemeni, Arab and international companies together with 69 ministers and officials from neighboring and foreign countries, the conference seeks to shed light on the opportunities and attributes of investing in Yemen and the distinguished guarantees and facilities provided by Yemeni investment law in a way that enhances the flow of foreign and Arab capital into Yemen.

More than 100 opportunities in various sectors will be presented during the conference, amounting to $8 billion, including the energy sector [electricity, oil, gas and minerals], tourism [islands, mountainous and coastal areas], establishing industrial zones [small and medium-sized industry] and infrastructure [airports, seaports, roads, railways, real estate and housing], together with investments in agriculture and fish wealth.

Further, participants will discuss various working papers related to Gulf investments in Yemen, developing Yemen's investment environment, economic reforms, joint ventures between Yemen and Gulf countries, etc.

In his welcome letter, President Ali Abdullah Saleh assured that Yemen's investment gate has been opened wide before investors, especially those from Gulf countries, and stressed that the conference is being held to enhance partnership between Yemen and the Gulf.

“We realize that today's world is one of economic blocs, a world marked by heated competitiveness and rapid transformation in all economic aspects wherein there's no place for those who still think traditionally,” Saleh stated.

He further noted, “Yemen is witnessing a significant transformation marked by will and determination to create a prosperous future full of welfare and peace,” adding that Yemen has a strong and true wish to develop and reinforce partnership and economic integration with its brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The president also praised the GCC General Secretariat's initiative aimed at upgrading brotherly relations between Yemen and Gulf nations, particularly in economic aspects, and increasing prospects for integration and cooperation.

Moreover, Saleh asserted that Yemen will give a special care to Gulf investments, as this will enhance and develop the joint interests of both sides. He went on to say that Yemen has adopted measures aimed at encouraging and attracting investment by developing legislation and strategic plans.

For his part, GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman Al-Attiyah declared that Yemen really has become an investment-qualified nation because it possesses the required components in this respect. He further indicated that Gulf nations are hopeful to achieve the goals behind organizing the investment conference, noting that such an occasion would firm up relations between Yemen and GCC countries.

Minister of Trade and Industry and head of the conference, Yahya Al-Mutawakel, pointed out that the conference is investors' compass, as it will make them aware of the existing opportunities and sectors in Yemen meant for investment.

General Investment Authority Chairman Salal Al-Attar observed that non-Yemeni investors have equal rights and duties with their Yemeni counterparts, noting that Yemeni law allows foreign investors full ownership of land and property belonging to their project.

Al-Attar further added that Yemeni investment law provides facilities and guarantees, in addition to tax and customs exemptions. It also imposes no tax on profits and investors are free to move their capital in and out of Yemen in foreign currency.

He also indicated that his authority will provide investors the required facilities and further ease registration procedures for investment projects, pointing out that the investment authority is now the only party responsible for following up investors and investment issues, after previously being distributed among three different parties.

Chamber of Commerce Union Chairman Mohammed Al-Maytami highlighted the importance of the investment conference and noted that partnership between Yemen's private sector and its Gulf counterparts is a landmark in the conference's success, pointing out that 80 percent of participating firms are from Gulf countries.

Observers believe that the participation of more than 650 local, Arab and foreign companies is an early success for the conference and an important step in empowering Yemen's economy to keep pace with Gulf economies.