For the first time since August 5, 2019, 33 companies from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong gather for the Investment Summit in Kashmir

Effort to rev ₹3,000 cr. MoUs signed earlier this year into reality

Effort to rev ₹3,000 cr. MoUs signed earlier this year into reality

To inspire confidence and become familiar with the “growing favorable situation in J&K for investment”, delegates from 33 companies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia have come to Srinagar to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in amount of ₹ 3,000 crores. Signed earlier this year, turned into reality.

Officials said delegates would attend the Gulf Business Summit on March 22 and discuss exploring J&K investment opportunities in various sectors.

Senior officials of these UAE-based companies including Roya International Group, Al-Tayer Group, Intercontinental Dubai, Hanadi Trading Est. The Promoter, Al Hashemi Group, Rawaaj Partner Representative of Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Office, Al Mal Capital etc. visited Pari Mahal near Dal Lake in Srinagar on Monday.

Also present is Ayman Abdulrahman S. Alhilali, CEO of Alpha Sky from Saudi Arabia. This is the first time an investor from Saudi Arabia has shown interest in J&K. Officials said these delegates are scheduled to travel to various destinations in North, South and Central Kashmir over the next two days.

“We’re not holding them back. This is an attempt to dispel the notion that Kashmir is an unsafe place. We want potential investors to see for themselves the beautiful place where they want to invest their money. This will end the misunderstanding about Kashmir and bring the real story to light,” said Ranjan Prakash Thakur, Chief Secretary of J&K Industries and Commerce the hindu, in an interview. “You have to realize that this is a different place than 2019. Money will follow as soon as they like the place,” he said.

The J&K government had signed the MoUs in January with the UAE-based companies including industry giants like Emaar, Lulu, MATU Investments, Al Maya Group, GL Employment Brokerage LLC, Century Financial, IT giant Noon E-Commerce etc. Around 16,000 channels (1,999.9 acres) land bank has already opened for investment in Kashmir.

“J&K had signed letters of intent with big companies like Emaar, Lulu etc. We now have an eye on the cash flow. The paperwork has already been done,” said Mr. Thakur.

The government has already established a year-round flight connection from J&K to the United Arab Emirates and plans to expand the flight connection to Saudi Arabia. This is intended to boost J&K’s merchandise exports as the government decided to open Jammu to large-scale manufacturing and restrict investments in Kashmir to real estate, agriculture, handicrafts, horticulture, tourism, food processing, information technology and medical colleges.

“There are already big brands that are willing to invest in healthcare, IT and tourism. More private investment will flow into tourist places like Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg where we need more hotels. All rooms in the Valley are currently booked. There is a generation in the country that has not seen Kashmir in the last 30 years,” Mr Thakur said.

Pulwama and Pampore in South Kashmir are emerging as the main draws for investors, with over 5,000 canals offering land.

“We are not acquiring the land of men. We only offer the government country. The change in land laws will also allow local people to make an appeal for land use,” Mr Thakur said.

He said industrialization and its economic benefits must be reaped by local people. “Everyone is equally invited to invest in J&K.”

Strong demand from Riyadh

After the UAE, the J&K government wants to attract investors from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, countries that appreciated the center’s efforts in J&K after the reading of Article 370 in 2019.

“There has been strong demand from Saudi Arabia to pursue it. Now that the COVID is over, let’s look at that part as well. This is a huge geostrategic move. We must create the conditions for investments to be secure. We will also attract investment from Qatar,” Mr. Thakur.

Unlike Muslim countries in West Asia, Western countries have so far shown reluctance to invest in J&K and have put pressure on New Delhi “to restore democratic processes in J&K”. In fact, visits to J&K arranged for delegations of diplomats from the European Union, the United States and Great Britain after August 5 to assess the situation did not bring favorable results.

As many Muslim countries evolve, the government sees this as a turning point in perception management. “We hope the Srinagar Summit on March 22 will open doors to the western world as well,” said Mr. Thakur.

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