Official visit concludes in Dubai
A large number of Norwegian business leaders accompanied Crown Prince Haakon on his travels to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is a key market for Norwegian exports, and many Norwegian companies are established there. One objective of the official visit has been to enhance relations between the two countries, and the Crown Prince began the days schedule of activities by opening a business seminar.
The seminar entitled The Norwegian Experience in the Maritime and ICT Sector focused on Norwegian expertise in these vital fields.
Crown Prince Haakon opened the seminars plenary session. In his remarks, the Crown Prince emphasised the considerable expertise that Norway has acquired in the maritime sector – expertise that may be highly relevant for Dubai and the UAE. A number of Norwegian companies have been operating in Dubai for more than ten years, and others are preparing to launch activities in the region:
Dubai is well placed in the region with a growing home market and with excellent infrastructure and facilities for re-export into other markets in the region. Norwegian companies are eager to introduce their technologies and services to this region.
Following the seminar, Crown Prince Haakon met with His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai. The Emirates have become an increasingly important partner for Norway, both economically and politically.
Together Crown Prince Haakon and Sheikh Hamdan visited Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building. The tower is over 800 metres high and has 160 floors. From the observation platform on the 24th floor Sheikh Hamdan could show Crown Prince Haakon the stunning view of the City of Dubai.
The Dry Docks shipyard
After lunch, the Crown Prince visited the Dry Docks shipyard. The company builds, converts and repairs ships and offshore installations, and handles an average of 400 vessels per year, including enormous oil tankers in the Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCC) and the Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) classes.
Crown Prince Haakon was given a guided tour of the shipyard and Polarcus Asima, a seismic vessel which was set afloat in 2009. Activities to install the equipment on board the vessel are nearly completed. The ship has been designed to keep pollution discharges to a minimum and is adapted for operations in the Arctic region. It is one example of cooperation between the shipyard in Dubai and the Norwegian ship design and supply industry.
At the Norwegian seamans church
In the afternoon, the Crown Prince visited the Norwegian seamans centre where he met with Norwegian nationals who live in Dubai. The seamans church was established in 1973 when 70-80 per cent of the Norwegian tanker fleet sailed through the Persian Gulf. Following an audience with the Emir at that time, the seamans priest Leif Frivold was presented with a plot of land on which the church could be built, and when the church opened in 1976, the Emir Sheikh Rashid himself was in attendance.
Today most of those who use the seamans centre are Scandinavians living permanently in Dubai. The centre offers a wide variety of activities such as a church choir, morning coffee hour, exercise programmes, film evenings, worship services and excursions.
In his remarks, Crown Prince Haakon thanked the employees and volunteers of the centre for their efforts: When you are living far from home, it is good to have a place to come to – for everyday social activities and for lifes most important events."
Meeting in Abu Dhabi
Following the visit to the seamans centre, a helicopter transported Crow Prince Haakon back to Abu Dhabi for a meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
A taste of Norway
In the evening, the official visit to Dubai and the Emirates concluded with a Norwegian buffet at which invited guests were provided with a taste of Norway from a wide selection of Norwegian fresh foods and speciality dishes.