Sunday, 22 January 2012 10:04
UAE companies want to move fast to establish themselves in Libya before rivals from other Gulf states and the rest of the world pile into a country that has a lot of oil revenue.
The depressing tawdriness of four decades of neglect under former dictator Muammar Gaddafi's rule is all too obvious in Libya's capital Tripoli. The roads are deeply pot-holed, most buildings are shabby and heavy concrete slabs betray their 1970s architecture, while large piles of rubbish mount up all around them.
But the miserable state of the country is also a huge business opportunity. "It might look grim, but there is so much to do. They need so much stuff," said the general manager of a family company in Abu Dhabi. He had flown into Tripoli as part of a 100-strong delegation of leading UAE companies and government officials, which used the inaugural flight of Etihad Airways to Tripoli as a reason to check out the new market.
The Emirati visitors all spoke of the need to move quickly to set up their businesses in Libya, despite the legal vacuum they would be moving into. They were well aware that the present interim government will draft some initial codes of conduct, which may then be replaced by the final elected government drafting new business laws, but the commercial reality is that they need to be on the ground as soon as possible.