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Sun 6 Nov 2011 10:23 AM

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Scotland eyes ‘significant’ deal with Abu Dhabi’s Masdar

First Minister Alex Salmond says research and investment deal could be first of many

Scotland eyes ‘significant’ deal with Abu Dhabi’s Masdar
Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland

Scotland
hopes to sign a “significant” research and investment deal with Abu Dhabi’s
green city, Masdar, in the New Year, the country’s First Minister has told
Arabian Business.

Masdar chief executive, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, has requested Scotland fast-track a detailed framework for
action in a bid to grow renewable energy research and investment opportunities
between the two countries, said Alex Salmond.

“The agreement potentially with Masdar we regard
as very significant. In addition to things announced we are expecting
significant announcements to come,” he said.

“I hope
and believe that some time in the early New Year we will be able to sign an
agreement for action between Masdar and the Scottish enterprise.”

Salmond declined to say how much the deal
would be worth but said it could potentially be valued at “billions” of
dollars.

Scotland’s First Minister, who last week
toured the region in a bid to forge trade links between Scotland and the Gulf,
said long term investment is vital to rebalancing the global economy.

Scottish exports to the Middle East are
around £1.02bn ($1.6bn), according to official figures.

“It’s
important that if we are going to readdress imbalances of the world economy as
opposed to just the world’s financial markets that we get these significant
long term investments. It should be said that the funds here - the sovereign
funds have led the way in that - have invested in real assets because lots of
money swishing around capital markets is going to do nobody any good
whatsoever,” he said.

Official data showed Scotland’s GDP
increased 0.1 percent during the last quarter but experts have warned the UK
still risks a crippling double dip recession amid a banking crisis in Europe.

Abu
Dhabi-based energy firm TAQA last week announced it would invest a further
£630m in the North Sea following a $1bn capital expenditure over the last three
years.

“TAQA
continues to invest heavily in the future of its UK North Sea business, with
capital expenditure for the next two years at broadly similar levels to 2010
and 2011,” said Leo Koot, managing director at TAQA.

Scotland
also hopes to boost Gulf investment in hotels, said Salmond.
“I’m
hoping that [Masdar City] will be the first of much to come. There is great
interest in Qatar and Abu Dhabi for renewable and for hotels and leisure there
is greater interest here in Dubai. Things are looking good between Scotland and
the Gulf.”

Hotels
in Scotland are outperforming tourism hotspots such as Paris, Rome and
Amsterdam, according to data from PFK Hotel Consultancy Services.

Hotels
in Edinburgh had the highest occupancy rate in Europe at 86 percent and 92
percent in May and June respectively, followed closely by Inverness.

Scotland’s
average hotel room yield in May increased 3.1 percent to £55.83 compared to a 1.3
percent increase to £44.88 in England and 12.2 percent to £44.28 in Wales, said
PFK Hotel Consultancy Services.

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