The Republic of Uzbekistan has been opening up to the world in recent years. Uzbekistan has strengthened its relationships with foreign partners in trade, investment, innovation, green energy, tourism, and other fields on the path of dynamic economic development. Noted as the largest consumer market in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is on the way to accelerated growth.

Following the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the UAE in 2019, UAE has become an important trading partner of Uzbekistan. Both the countries signed a joint statement including inter-governmental, inter-departmental documents, and investment agreements to implement 11 collaborative projects.

Food Exports

The largest share of the Dubai-Uzbekistan non-oil market comprises the food market that involves the production and export of apricots, carrots, cherries, etc. In 2020, the figures showed a steady rise of AED.1.42 billion of food exports, pointing to Uzbekistan as a leader in this position. The country is also developing its logistics and transport corridors to supply Uzbek fresh, and processed fruit and vegetable produce.

The average annual growth rate of agriculture, forestry, and fishery production for 2016 to 2020 showed an increase of 2.6 percent, with 7.2 percent coming in from the agricultural sector alone. This resulted from the structural reforms and implementation of measures that helped support sustainable development and modernization of the agricultural sector.

The UAE company that strongly supports this venture is Abu Dhabi based Sura Holding. Sura Holding has invested in projects designed to modernize the agricultural scene in Uzbekistan. Several other UAE-based companies have invested in agricultural projects across Uzbekistan.

The Energy Sector

The high potential market segment that UAE has invested in Uzbekistan is energy. UAE’s investments in energy projects reflect a growing interest and confidence in the energy market.

During the Uzbekistan President’s visit to the UAE in March 2019, UAE agreed to develop a 500-Megawatt wind farm project in Uzbekistan. This project was set to be developed by Masdar. Later in April 2021, the 500-megawatt project increased its capacity to 1.5-gigawatts.

In December 2020, Masdar completed its financial closure of the first PPP project, the Nur Navoi Solar Project. In recent news, the Dubai-based Phanes Group has inked a power purchase agreement and Investment agreement for a 200 MW grid connector solar PV plant in Uzbekistan that includes technical and commercial terms for building owning and operating a 200MWAC solar PV project including facilities connecting to Khimiya 220/110 kV substation.

Frontiers for Tourism

Uzbekistan has developed the regulatory framework for modernizing and expanding its tourism industry. Some of the plans laid down include introducing halal certification, training of halal tourism guides, and construction of halal hotels.

With the implementation of visa-free tourism in 2018 for Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey, tourists can come over to visit the Muslim shrines of the country without any hassles.

In 2019, the visa-free allowance was extended to UAE citizens and residents, which will positively facilitate business and tourism exchange between the two countries in the post-COVID years to come.

Retail Opportunities

Interestingly, UAE’s retail giant, the Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Group, has already established its footing in Uzbekistan by opening several Carrefour supermarkets in Tashkent. The entry of the region’s leading mall operator highlights the retail sector’s potential in the country for UAE companies.

This move is an indication that the retail market in Uzbekistan is ready to be tapped. UAE-based retail companies can maximize the opportunities and play a crucial role in developing modern retail in the country and creating value for the industry and the Uzbek economy.

UAE-Uzbekistan – A Win-Win Partnership

The Expo 2020 in Dubai is ideal for Uzbekistan’s economic potential as Uzbek companies leverage the platform provided to market the Uzbek potential to a world audience.

The country’s embassy in the UAE will continue to work closely with public and private sector stakeholders to ensure that bilateral relations continue developing and flourishing. The Government-led reforms have brought positive changes to the nation’s business landscape, with the retail sector seeing growth from foreign investors and multi-national companies.