Home » The Netherlands and UAE: Business ties that help reap rewards and lifelong friendships

The Netherlands and UAE: Business ties that help reap rewards and lifelong friendships


Abdulla Bin Damithan, CEO and MD, DP World GCC, hosts Dr Carel Richter, Consul-General of the Netherlands, alongwith representatives of both teams during the Consul General’s visit to the DP World headquarters in Dubai last year

The Netherlands sees excellent representation in the UAE through the presence of Dutch expats in the country. What role does the Netherlands Consul General’s office play in getting Dutch citizens to settle down here?

We count around 7,500 Dutch nationals as residents and over 350 Dutch companies in the UAE, quite a sizeable Dutch community and particularly in Dubai. As such, we have two organisations we direct Dutch nationals to in order to help them integrate into the Dutch community here: Club NL (the Dutch Club that was formed in 1984 for social purposes) and the Netherlands Business Council (the Dutch business club that was formed in 1997).

Indeed, the UAE has become the hub for Dutch businesses in the region. I believe that there are several elements that may have contributed, such as the quality of life and the numerous opportunities for growth

– Dr Carel Richter, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UAE

Thanks to these organisations, as well as the assistance of the staff at the Consulate General in Dubai and the Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Dutch nationals are able to start off on the right foot and receive advice from individuals already familiar with the local landscape.

The UAE ranks high globally in terms of ease of set-up and doing business. What are your views on the same and how is the Netherlands Consulate helping facilitate Dutch businesses set up shop in Dubai and the UAE?

Indeed, the UAE has become the hub for Dutch businesses in the region. I believe that there are several elements that may have contributed, such as the quality of life and the numerous opportunities for growth.

In my opinion, the open economy and the strong logistical base that is the UAE have especially contributed to this position. The recent changes in regulations only serve to underscore how the UAE is forward looking and business driven.

Our economic teams at the Consulate General in Dubai and the Embassy in Abu Dhabi, work on assisting Dutch businesses in setting up in the UAE by sharing information on set up and/or expansion, directing them to free zones or other consultants, as well as linking them to potential partners. We also serve as a sounding board for companies in order for them to discuss their ideas and opportunities available in the UAE.

Throughout the numerous trade fairs and trade missions taking place in the Emirates, my teams see many Dutch businesses. We organise many events around these exhibitions and visits in order to bring companies together with local stakeholders.

We have an exciting role within the community. Our work was rewarded earlier this year when the UAE, represented by the Consulate General in Dubai and the Embassy in Abu Dhabi, was awarded the Embassy Prize by our Minister of Foreign Trade and the Dutch employers’ organisation.

How has your tenure been so far, please elaborate on some of the high points of your stay in the UAE in your official capacity.

Thus far it has luckily been mostly high points. I started my position as Consul General in Dubai with an additional role, that of Commissioner General at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Our participation at Expo 2020, with a circular pavilion, a biotope, with the theme “Uniting water-energy-food”, was certainly a highlight – particularly with the visit of the King and Queen on our National Day.

Other high points include: opening up a regional HQ of a Dutch company, organising an architectural talk on circularity and sustainability, and hosting a roundtable with Dutch-UAE businesses, and the visit of our PM Rutte.

Dubai is such a dynamic place that there is always another milestone on the horizon — the next one being COP28.