It was indeed a great day of mutual flattering when Finnish and UAE business leaders and the torchbearers of innovation from both countries met in Helsinki. In his Keynote H.E. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Director General and CEO of Adnoc, also Chairman of Masdar and Abu Dhabi Ports reflected the innovation visions of the two countries to be ‘mirror images’. Flagship UAE organizations such as DP World, Etisalat, Road and Transport Authority (RTA), Masdar, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), EmiratesNBD Bank and EXPO 2020 were presenting their technology visions and gaps at the Forum.
Twenty Finnish corporations and SME’s showcased their offering matching the UAE demand. Dubai Chamber, Finncham, Tekes and Technology Industries (TT) and Finpro gave their insights into the future of innovation in smart society and circular economy.
The forum was organized by the Gulfpoint, an expert in the UAE market entry and trade, and Advion Group that accelerates trade from Finland.
I had the honor to present the Finnish expertise already on the ground in the UAE through presenting the FBC and its member profiles. We had put our best foot forward to print first copies of our refreshed member catalogues. And yes, we do have an impressive array of globally leading industrial players as members, numbering well over 30. We do not have the IKEAs or Volvos, instead most of our members are highly specialized niche companies. Increasingly more are SME’s and even startups, who want to capitalize on the (I quote a senior director from the Dubai Future Accelerator) ‘pre-legal innovation environment’ that supports innovations without the stifling legislation. Innovate and regulation will follow!
However, I felt I had to bring up a fact that our trade figures are somewhat concerning (albeit the accuracy is equivocal and subject to many natural explanations, but the playground is level with our competition). Sweden boasts 85% growth in trade from 2010 whereas Finland’s exports to the UAE have been in consistent downswing. In customs statistics our exports are actually only one quarter of the top years in mid-2000’s. What do we owe this to? The market has doubled in population. Many industry sectors have witnessed many fold growth. Is our trade promotion model failing? Or are we just not good enough, busy enough or interested enough? This is puzzling as Finland is well known for consistently high quality and reliable delivery. There seems to be so much Finland could offer. Looking at the trade delegations shuttling between the countries there certainly seems to be enough interest in the air – last year alone there was half a dozen delegations at quick counting. Do we not know how to follow up and close the deals?
‘Too much modesty will not get you anywhere’
In the Forum there was a session for business ramp up, where FBC Vice Chairman Katia Al-Kaisi urged Finns to be more vocal and proud of their products and expertise. The Forum managed to create a vision of high yet achievable linear goals by two determined nations. Modest as we Finns are, there at times was a spirit of what we call ‘keskinäisen kehumisen kerho’ – referring to a club of mutual flattering. Sarcastically some would say that it is when two mediocre performers give compliments to each other. In golf terms, it reminds of a gimmie (allowing partner to skip a difficult put by ‘giving’ it) which true golfers define as a mutual agreement between two lousy putters. Well, in the case of Finland and the UAE I do not think this is a case. Finland tops the global ranks on so many aspects it is borderline embarrassing or dubious when presenting. The UAE is no alien to superlatives and megalomaniac proportions in its announcements of new projects. Maybe we Finns need more of these mutual flattering forums? When googling the translation I came across a joyful training session on employee wellbeing titled The Mutual Flattering Club (for a lack of a better translation). In this session even the quiet and modest one will be heard, learns to give credit to himself and to others. The training promises as immediate results red cheeks and tears of joy, unforgettable experience and the ultimately uplifting and long lasting feeling of unreserved appraisal. Positive endorsement is always a good means to an end. I saw many rosy cheeks. Go Finland!
Honorary Chairman, FBC
Partner at the Gulfpoint
Press release of the event can be found on http://adviongroup.com/blog/
EXPO 2020 FAST FACTS
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have been earmarked for particular focus with 20 percent of the Expo overall budget, equating to around USD 1.6 billion (EUR 1.44 billion).
15,000 companies from 123 countries have registered on the procurement site. This year, contracts totaling in excess of USD 3 billion (EUR 2.7 billion) will be awarded by Expo. EXPO 2020 procurement site: https://esource.expo2020dubai.ae/