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Deal on renewables in Abu Dhabi
Scotland's position as a leading player in renewables has been reinforced this week with a unique collaboration being agreed between First Minister Alex Salmond and one of the world's leading renewables innovators.
As a result of his five-day tour of Qatar and the UAE this week, the First Minister (FM) has agreed plans with the alternative energy company Masdar to draw up plans for a partnership with Scotland that will boost university research into renewable energy sources and promote other initiatives.
The discussions between the FM and Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Masdar's chief executive, took place during a visit by Mr Salmond to Masdar City, a ground-breaking initiative in the desert which showcases advances in the development, commercialisation and deployment of renewable technology.
The First Minister said:
"I firmly believe this agreement will yield great results for Abu Dhabi, great results for Scotland, and I do believe it will lead to significant advances that will benefit this entire planet. That's the importance of what's been talked about.
"Dr Al Jaber insisted that he doesn't want just a memorandum of agreement, he wants a framework for action. He's looked at two areas in particular: cooperation over research into renewables technology between universities, and direct investment and partnerships for specific projects.
"This is the first time Masdar will have had an agreement with a government agency - a country. Masdar's previous agreements have been with individual companies, so this is quite a breakthrough for us both."
Dr Al Jaber said:
"Masdar is pleased to partner with Scotland on a number of upcoming renewable energy initiatives. We discussed a number of areas of collaboration and I look forward to working closely with him over the coming months to move these ideas forward.
"Scotland is a leading player in the renewable energy field and we are delighted to combine our knowledge and experience through this mutual and beneficial partnership."
Details of the deal will be drawn up by Masdar and Scottish Enterprise, with a view to an agreement being signed in January.
During the course of five days, The FM met Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, emir of Qatar, and Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani, prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar; and Sheikh Hamdam bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the deputy ruler of Dubai.
He also opened the new Doha headquarters of Scottish international law firm McGrigors, took part in a low carbon technology transition discussion and toured the present premises for Weir Oil and Gas in Dubai while viewing their new plans for expansion in the area.
The opening by the First Minister of Heriot-Watt University's new showpiece £35m campus in Dubai was a major highlight of the visit, and further testament to Scotland's dynamic role in producing students equipped with the skills to become future leaders, managers and innovators in the business world.
Mr Salmond said:
"Throughout this visit and in discussion with key dignitaries in Qatar and UAE, both countries have expressed their confidence in Scotland's economic strategy. The meetings I have had have given me the opportunity to talk in more detail about some of the unique opportunities Scotland can offer. From oil and gas to renewable energy, infrastructure investment and education, our country is rich in resource and opportunity.
"Worldwide market forces also make this an attractive time to invest in long term viable capital projects. I am confident that the Scottish Government's commitment to capital investment for long-term growth will make Scotland an attractive partner for our friends in the Gulf."
Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said:
"Opening up new opportunities with other nations is vital to secure Scotland's long-term economic growth.
"The UAE offers real possibilities for Scotland and its companies in a variety of key industries including education, low carbon and renewables. Our five day visit was all about strengthening trade relations to proactively make it easier for Scottish companies to trade there. Many Scottish businesses are already successfully active in the region and by further nurturing our relations with the UAE we can not only enhance our own ways of working but can ultimately generate increased growth for the Scottish economy.
"Our message is clear - Scotland is very much open for business and is ready to compete on a global stage. We look forward to working in the region on future projects."
The First Minister also contrasted the positive outlook shared by Scotland, Qatar and the UAE with the failed economic strategy of the UK Government. He said:
"The economies of Qatar and the UAE continue to perform well as they seek to diversify. They share Scotland's commitment to sustainable capital investment which will secure the long term future of our respective economies.
"In the current economic circumstances, capital investment must be a priority in both the public and private sector. Scotland offers many attractive business opportunities, particularly in renewables and infrastructure, which offer the prospects of good returns for substantial investors and this has been borne out by my discussions in the Middle East.
"I am now looking forward to our nations building on these dynamic new relationships for the greater benefit of us all."