The Abu Dhabi investment forum in Paris will kick off in next Wednesday. The event will be organized by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, with the participation of a high-level official government delegation led by H.E. Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, the Chairman Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, in the presence of more than 200 senior French government officials, businessmen and investors.The Forum will be addressed by H.E. Mohammad Mir Abdullah Al Raisi, UAE Ambassador to Franc, followed by two major speeches to be delivered by H.E. Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, and Her Excellency Nicole Bricq, the French Minister for Foreign Trade. The two officials will highlight the developments in bilateral relations, economic and investment fields, and shed light on the investment opportunities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and France, with emphasis on energy, industry, infrastructure and business and finance sectors.HE Hamad Abdullah Al Mas, the Executive Director of International Economic Relations Division of the Department of Economic Development, said that this importance Forum comes at a time when economic relations between Abu Dhabi and France, in particular and France and UAE in general, witness mounting development, and enjoy great attention by leadership and the Governments of the two countries. He noted that the forum aims to create more investment opportunities for the two sides in several strategic sectors which constitute essential pillars of sustainable economic development.Al Mas said that the Forum will be marked by large presence of French businessmen and investors, who had shown great interest in the investment opportunities offered by the Emirate's three areas of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region.Al Mas stressed that Abu Dhabi has become an important Center for investments in the region, due to the great government support enjoyed by major strategic development areas, particularly the alternative energy projects, infrastructure, logistics, finance and business sectors. He emphasized the government focus on strengthening the role of the industrial sector and increasing its contribution to the Emirate's GDP, by attracting more technology and knowledge transfer investments, particularly to the specialized industrial zones. Al Mas said that the organizing of this forum in Paris stems from the fact that the UAE has become a major economic partner with France, and is the largest market for French products in the Middle East, where France ranked globally as the seventh biggest exporter to UAE, and third largest European exporter to the country, stating that UAE acquired 25% of French exports to the Middle East, and accounted for 33% of French exports to GCC countries.The forum six scheduled panel discussions, will review the investment opportunities offered by Abu Dhabi in the strategic sectors of industry, energy, infrastructure, transportation, education, business and finance and oil and petrochemicals. A number of senior officials from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, will participates in the meetings of the Forum, notably their Excellencies Waleed Al Mokarrab, Chief Operating Officer of Mubadala Development, Fahad Al Raqabani, Director of the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi the Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry - the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber, Mohammed Hassan Al Qemzi the Chief Executive of the Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones, Abdullah Saif Al Nuaimi the Director of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity, Mohamed Hareb Al Yousef the Executive Director of the Department of Transport, Rashid Al Baluchi the Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Mohammed Al Hammadi the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Energy Corporation and a number of experts and senior officials in government agencies and companies in Abu Dhabi.The National Bureau of Statistics data, revealed an increase by 50% in non-oil trade between the UAE and France during the period (2007-2011), which amounted to AED 17.8 billion in 2011. During the same period, the UAE total exports to France grew by 234% to mark AED 1.8 billion in 2011; and in return the UAE imports from France increased by 40% during the same period, as it amounted to AED 16 billion in 2011.As a result of the increase in exports to France, compared to imports, the French trade deficit increased by 30% during the period (2007-2011), marking AED 14 billion in 2011. Despite the rise in the non-oil foreign trade of Abu Dhabi with France by 93% during the period (2007-2011), but it accounted only for 33% of the total non-oil trade of the UAE with France in 2011. According to the French Embassy in Abu Dhabi, there are 250 branches of French companies in the UAE. Total Petroleum Company is one of the largest investors in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in terms of oil and gas exploration and production, as well as crude oil refining, and sale and distribution of oil, gas and petroleum products. In addition Total Company, holds (9.5%) of the shares of Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations ADCO and (15%) of Abu Dhabi Gas Industries GASCO Total also invested in projects outside the oil sector, such as the Dolphin Gas Project (see page 4) and Masdar’s flagship Shams 1 solar plant. It has a 24% stake in the Dolphin Energy consortium, which operates the Dolphin Gas Project. Indeed, France is an important trade partner for Abu Dhabi. Total Petroleum is one of the largest investors: the energy giant has stakes in a number of upstream and downstream projects in Abu Dhabi, including Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (9.5%) and Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Company (15%). Total has also and a 20% stake in a joint venture to own, build, and operate Shams1, together with Masdar and Spain’s Abengoa.The Strata advanced composite aero structures manufacturing facility based in Al Ain, is a major, long-term partnership project between Abu Dhabi and France; where Mubadala in 2008 signed an agreement with The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) for settinga plant for the production of composite aero structures for aircrafts.The UAE investments in France are estimated at € 2 billion, representing more than 45% of the total investment attracted from the Middle East; and about 65% of Gulf investments in France and the UAE investments in France. UAE investments in France are concentrated in the sectors of transportation, aviation equipments, electrical appliances, automotive industry in addition to the real estate sector.The United Arab Emirates and the Republic of France are linked with a number of important agreements, notably; the agreement signed between the two countries in 2008 in the field of intellectual property, the 1991 agreement on the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) signed between the two countries in 1989It should be noted that the French economy is the second largest economy in the euro zone, following the German economy. France relies significantly on tourism revenues, and comes among the most visited countries in the world, with approximately 75 million foreign tourists per year, and ranks third worldwide in terms of tourism income. The French economy is currently in transition from an economy governed by The State to an economy which depends more on market mechanisms, as the Government in recent years has partially or totally, privatized many businesses and major banks and ceded stakes in leading companies such as Air France, Renault, France Telecom and others.