King Juan Carlos of Spain
Along with the introduction of the Golden Visa at the end of last year which is designed to encourage investment in Spain by nations from outside of the E.U, the King Juan Carlos of Spain has also been undertaking promotion of the country in an attempt to boost trade relations and the economy.
King Juan Carlos of Spain began a visit to the Persian Gulf region on Monday by telling United Arab Emirates officials that deepening ties with their oil-rich country was a top priority, highlighting the role wealthy Arab states could play in shoring up the battered Spanish economy.
The Spanish head of state made the comments at the start of an economic forum in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi, his first stop on a tour of six Gulf nations planned in the next few months. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes several Spanish government ministers and representatives of major Spanish companies.
The king said, “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”.
The visit to the OPEC member nation is expected to focus in large part on boosting trade and investment between the 2 counties. The UAE is the second largest Arab economy, behind Saudi Arabia. It is a federation of seven semi-autonomous emirates that includes the commercial hub of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which controls the bulk of the country’s oil wealth.
Other Gulf states have shown interest in doing business with Spain too. A Spanish-led consortium is developing a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail link between the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, and an advertisement for the natural-gas rich state of Qatar’s national airline, Qatar Airways, graces the team shirts of Spanish football club Barcelona.
In 2012, an arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund paid Spanish company Ferrovial SA the equivalent of nearly $750 million for its stake in the company that operates London’s Heathrow and other British airports. Qatar Holding also owns a stake in Spanish power utility Iberdrola SA.
The Spanish king will visit Kuwait next, and plans to return to the region over the coming months for visits to Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.