Fostering Innovation Bridges: The Hong Kong Ambassadors Club leads a Landmark Delegation to the UAE

The United Arab Emirates, a beacon of progress and innovation in the Middle East, and Hong Kong, a dynamic city renowned for its vibrant tech and finance sectors, are two regions that seemingly operate in different spheres. Yet, their mutual drive for advancement and growth has brought them together in a significant way, under the aegis of the Hong Kong Ambassadors Club (HKAC).

The HKAC, an organisation for global investors and professionals seeking to deepen ties and build connections, recently curated the first BridgeME UAE-HK Smart City Business Delegation. From 13 to 17 June 2023, the delegation visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi, conducting business and investment meetings with senior government officials, local conglomerates, Emirati family offices, sovereign funds, and the ruling families of the UAE.

Led by Co-founders of the HKAC, The Hon Jeffrey Lam, a Member of the Legislative Council and the Executive Council of the HKSAR Government, and Patrick Tsang, Chairman of Tsangs Group, the delegation comprised of 15 key representatives from the Legislative Council, Executive Council of Hong Kong, smart city technology companies, listed companies, and family offices of Hong Kong.

The delegation aimed to bridge the gap between the best smart city technology businesses in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area of Mainland China to the Middle East via the UAE, symbolising a robust 69.8% share of Hong Kong’s total commerce within the region. UAE’s significant strategic hub status, especially in terms of the Belt and Road Initiative, underscores its critical role in Hong Kong’s regional engagements.

Map of UAE (Photo credit: Times of India Travel)

Each Emirate within the UAE has a distinct focus area. Dubai, known for its futuristic skyline and ambitious projects, has a strong emphasis on fintech and innovation. The DIFC Innovation Hub, a part of the new Dubai Future District announced in January 2020, is home to over 350 fintech and innovation firms, playing a key role in driving collaboration within the fintech sector​1​. 

In Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, concentrates on finance, underscoring its role as a global financial centre. The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is a broad-based international financial centre for local, regional and international institutions. It is also home to the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), the applied research pillar of the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC). The institute is committed to reinforcing Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s status as a global hub for innovation and advanced technologies. The TII focusses on seven key areas: quantum research; autonomous robotics; cryptography; advanced materials; digital security; directed energy; and secure systems​​. With teams of international scientists and researchers, the TII is driving applied research, intellectual property development, and academic and industry partnerships. It is currently working on over 25 long-term collaborative projects with more than 20 world-leading universities, demonstrating a deep commitment to innovation and technological advancement​​.

Sharjah, on the other hand, where a few key representatives of the delegation visited as well, prioritises sustainable city development, robotics, and smart mobility. The Sharjah Sustainable City (SSC) is the first fully integrated and sustainable development in the Emirate, aiming to create a net-zero energy community with a focus on eco-friendly and energy-efficient structures. The Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI) is propelling Sharjah towards the forefront of advanced manufacturing and establishing it as a key manufacturing hub, with a focus on Industry 4.0 technologies like Big Data, 3D Printing, IoT, Robotics, and more​​.

In the wake of the high-level delegation, over 30 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were meticulously drafted and successfully ratified. These collaborations span a variety of initiatives, including groundbreaking proof-of-concept trials for cutting-edge smart logistics technologies and service robotics, commitments to renewable energy projects, and dynamic acceleration programmes designed to propel the development and adoption of next-generation technologies.

The delegation’s visit marks a significant milestone for the HKAC. It showcased how leading tech entrepreneurs and business leaders from Hong Kong can successfully establish business partnerships with local conglomerates and government agencies in the UAE. Pilot projects for proof-of-concept will soon commence in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The journey has only just begun, but the path ahead is clear. Through mutual respect, collaboration, and a shared vision for the future, Hong Kong and the UAE can harness the power of innovation to create a brighter, more sustainable world. The BridgeME UAE-HK Smart City Business Delegation is a testament to this burgeoning partnership, signalling the dawn of a new era in UAE-Hong Kong relations. The HKAC, with its mission to foster connections and build bridges between Hong Kong and the rest of the world, is set to play a pivotal role in this exciting journey ahead.

His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan and The Hon Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung

Chinese Calligraphy Gift Presentation to H.E. Abdulla Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade and H.E Abdulaziz Ibrahim Ali Al-Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Commercial Affairs Regulatory Sector of the Ministry of Economy of UAE with The Hon Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, GBS, JP, Co-Founder of Hong Kong Ambassadors Club, Member of Legislative Council and the Executive Council of Hong Kong SAR (middle); and Patrick Tsang, Founder and Chairman of Hong Kong Ambassadors Club and Tsangs Group, accompanied by the representative of the BridgeME UAE-Hong Kong Business Delegation.