We have been active in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for a few months now. During these activities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) we got in touch with Dr. Dalia Abu Samra-Rothe, Deputy CEO of the German-Emirati Joint Council (AHK) and Director of the AHK-office in Abu Dhabi. We talked about the potential of renewable energy in the UAE in general and about perspectives for German companies in the Middle East.

Solardirekt: What do you think about the export relationship between Germany and the UAE in the renewable energy market in general?

Dr. Samra-Rothe: German companies have been active in the renewable energy market here for many years. Thanks to the export initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economics, the German-Emirati Joint Council has been supporting companies of the industry in entering the UAE market for almost ten years now. Although many companies are active in the energy-efficiency sector. Either, they act as technological partners or as project consultants. Energy efficiency is a big issue in the local building market.

Solardirekt: Are German companies also active in the local photovoltaic market?

Dr. Samra-Rothe: German component suppliers significantly contributed to the first solar plant Shams 1 in Abu Dhabi (CSP). Today, the UAE follows new international standards. The last tender for 800 mw at the Solar Maktoum Park was won at a price of 2,99 USD c/kw. Also, we expect a tremendous price decrease in CSP which is still more expensive. Currently, the offers for 200 mw at the Mohamed Maktoum Solarpark which were advertised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority(DEWA) are being evaluated. At present, German companies are not much engaged in those bids. Their business potential is in the preparation of feasibility studies and in consultancy contracts.

Solardirekt: Which Emirate offers the most promising perspectives for German enterprises for the upcoming years? Why?

Dr. Samra-Rothe: The UAE consists of seven Emirates. While the Federation is responsible for general regulations and plans, the project business and the implementation of standards, for example in the energy efficiency sector, is up to the respective Emirate. Today, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), Masdar and the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) are the biggest contractors. Within the last ten years, the UAE haspre become a pioneer in the regional renewable energy market. It all started with the Masdar Initiative in 2005 (formerly the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company). The building of Masdar City and the projects which were set up (Masdar Power, Masdar Institute, etc.) were the kick-off of several other projects and laid the foundation of the prevailing boom in this market sector.

Solardirekt: What advantages do German companies have in the UAE compared to competitors from other countries?

Dr. Samra-Rothe: In the UAE, “Made in Germany“ is a quality seal for reliable state-of-the-art technologies. Yet, often the German solutions are more expensive than those of companies from other markets. The UAE market is strongly driven by the price. As a result, the German suppliers score with their special know-how or niche solutions where the price is secondary.

Local presence is a critical success factor

Solardirekt: What are the „do’s” and „don’ts“ when entering the UAE market?

Dr. Samra-Rothe: You need to be present here. Either you should open a local office or travel much. The local presence is a crucial factor to your success in the UAE. Here, it is common to confirm or cancel appointments at short notice. Yet, you must be flexible. At the same time, our local business men expect their German partners to be reliable and deliver in time. These are the values German companies stand for here and why they are preferred business partners.

Solardirekt: The „Export Initiative Energy“ practically supports the export activities of German companies. What does the Chamber of Commerce offer?

Dr. Samra-Rothe: At present, the Export Initiative Energy is preparing its next trip to the UAE, commencing on October 20, 2017. Our Chamber supports German enterprises in getting in touch with local business people and customers. Our website provides a wide range of market information about the renewable energies and energy efficiency in the UAE.

Solardirekt: Mrs. Samra-Rothe, thank you very much for the interview.

Dr. Dalia Abu Samra-Rothe, Direktorin des AHK-Büros in Abu Dhabi