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Switzerland extends its horizons in the Gulf

André Bisang is happy with the outcome of Swiss Horizons

The biggest ever Swiss promotional event in the Gulf has achieved what it set out to do in raising Switzerland's profile, according to Andre Bisang, chairman of the event's organiser, the Swiss Business Council in Dubai.

The three-day event, held in the United Arab Emirates’ second largest emirate, Dubai, included an exhibition, a conference highlighting different aspects of Swiss business, and events illustrating Switzerland’s cultural diversity.

Reviewing the event, “Swiss Horizons – Swiss Presence in the Gulf”, Bisang told swissinfo: “I must say what has been particularly positive is the fantastic coverage our event had in the local and international press – what we’ve seen, read and heard there is also putting Switzerland in the limelight, which was the aim of Swiss Horizons.”

The event was attended by Switzerland’s economics minister, Pascal Couchepin – who made the first ever official visit by a Swiss minister to the UAE – as well as an array of major Swiss companies.

Bisang said “Swiss Horizons” had gone some way in achieving its main aim. “One of our objectives was to update the image of Switzerland – this has been achieved through this first ever global presentation of Switzerland in the Gulf. We wanted to support what existed but also open the road for new possibilities.”

“What is important now is to very carefully follow up in some sectors,” explained Bisang. “Swiss Horizons shouldn’t be repeated too often as it’s a global impression of Switzerland, but we should follow up sector by sector where most interest has been shown.”

During the event, a number of private talks were held between Swiss firms and prospective local partners.

One major deal was between the city of Geneva and the municipality of Dubai, which signed a memorandum of understanding that covered closer economic and cultural ties between the two cities.

“Swiss Horizons” was designed to cover a wide range of Swiss business interests, highlighting not only the traditional sectors which trade with the UAE but also less traditional partners such as the Information Technology industry and healthcare.

Among the less high-profile agreements reached during the event: Lausanne Hotel School said it was to open a branch in Dubai, and a Swiss watch movement maker announced plans to open a production plant for the decorative parts of movements in the UAE.

by Tom O’Brien, Dubai

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR