UAE investors to inject $10bn in Bangladesh economic zones

Ships lie at anchor in the River Karnafuli, near Chittagong. Several UAE-based investors have expressed interest in developing economic zones and hi-tech parks in Bangladesh. (Reuters)
Updated 17 September 2019

UAE investors to inject $10bn in Bangladesh economic zones

  • Conference aimed at strengthening the flow of trade and investment between the two countries
  • Bangladesh is on a growth overdrive and is expected to touch more than 8 percent in the next few years, making it the fastest growing economy in the world

DHAKA: UAE-based investors have lined up several new projects including five free economic zones worth $10 billion in Bangladesh, the plans for which were discussed at the Bangladesh Economic Forum in Dubai on Sunday.

Salman F. Rahman, advisor to Bangladesh’s prime minister on private industry and investment, led a 20-member government delegation comprising officials from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority for the meeting in the UAE.

This was the first time representatives from all three agencies participated in the Bangladesh Economic Forum — a private sector initiative undertaken by UAE-based, non-resident Bangladeshi professionals and entrepreneurs.

More than 300 government officials, business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs participated in the day-long international investment conference, which is aimed at strengthening the flow of trade and investment between the UAE and Bangladesh.

Several UAE-based investors expressed interest in developing economic zones and hi-tech parks in Bangladesh.

“I am pleased to see strong and genuine interest among UAE-based investors — both UAE national and foreign business groups — in investing in Bangladesh,” Rahman said.

He added that Dhaka had seen heavy investments from China, Japan and the US, urging investors from Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to “take advantage of the lower cost of investment, operations and higher return on investment in Bangladesh.”

“Investment from the GCC and the Arab world will help us achieve a higher growth rate and we are more than ready to welcome them,” Rahman said.

Kamrul Hasan, commerce secretary of Bangladesh’s mission in the UAE, told Arab News that it was a very successful discussion. “Besides, the event created a very positive branding for Bangladesh” he added.

Experts welcomed the proposal, with Dr. Shamsul Alam, member of the country’s planning commission, saying that at this moment, it was the “most desirable thing for the country.”

“To attain the target of our sustainable development goals, we need to have at least $9 billion in investment every year until 2030,” Alam told Arab News.

“At present, Bangladesh has the most congenial policy regime — foreign investors are enjoying the opportunity of a 100 percent profit repatriation policy,” he added.

However, he said that to attract investment, the country was working on building 100 economic processing zones and 28 hi-tech parks by 2030, with plans in place to get 15 ready in the next five years.

Bangladesh’s economy grew at 7.9 percent in 2018. The country is on a growth overdrive and is expected to touch more than 8 percent in the next few years, making it the fastest growing economy in the world.

In order to sustain 8 percent plus gross domestic product growth, Bangladesh needs massive foreign and domestic investment which will create employment and ensure sustainable development.

The World Bank estimates Dhaka must spend as much as $10 billion a year by 2020 to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard in order to serve its growing population.


Bosnia Muslims mourn their dead 25 years after Srebrenica massacre

Updated 20 min 30 sec ago

Bosnia Muslims mourn their dead 25 years after Srebrenica massacre

  • At 1100 GMT, a ceremony laying to rest the remains of nine victims identified over the past year began at the memorial cemetery in Potocari
  • On July 11, 1995, after capturing the ill-fated town, Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in a few days

SREBRENICA: Bosnian Muslims began marking the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on Saturday, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II, with the memorial ceremony sharply reduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Proceedings got underway in the morning with many mourners braving the tighter restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.
At 1100 GMT, a ceremony laying to rest the remains of nine victims identified over the past year began at the memorial cemetery in Potocari, a village just outside Srebrenica that served as the base for the UN protection force during the conflict.
On July 11, 1995, after capturing the ill-fated town, Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in a few days.
Sehad Hasanovic, 27, has a two-year-old daughter — the same age he was when he lost his father in the violence.
“It’s difficult when you see someone calling their father and you don’t have one,” Hasanovic said in tears, not dissuaded from attending the commemorations in spite of the virus.
His father, Semso, “left to go into the forest and never returned. Only a few bones have been found,” said Hasanovic.
Like his brother Sefik and father Sevko, Semso was killed when Bosnian Serb troops led by Ratko Mladic entered the Srebrenica enclave before systematically massacring Bosnian men and adolescents.
“The husbands of my four sisters were killed,” said Ifeta Hasanovic, 48, whose husband Hasib was one of the nine victims whose remains have been identified since July 2019.
“My brother was killed, so was his son. My mother-in-law lost another son as well as her husband.”
The episode — labelled as genocide by two international courts — came at the end of a 1992-1995 war between Bosnia’s Croats, Muslims and Serbs that claimed some 100,000 lives.
So far, the remains of nearly 6,900 victims have been found and identified from more than 80 mass graves.
Bosnian Serb wartime military chief general Ratko Mladic, still revered as a hero by many Serbs, was sentenced to life in prison by a UN court in 2017 over war crimes including the Srebrenica genocide. He is awaiting the decision on his appeal.
Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb wartime political leader, was also sentenced to life in prison in The Hague.
The Srebrenica massacre is the only episode of the Bosnian conflict to be described as genocide by the international community.
And while for Bosnian Muslims recognizing the scale of the atrocity is a necessity for lasting peace, for most Serbs — leaders and laypeople in both Bosnia and Serbia — the use of the word genocide remains unacceptable.
In the run-up to the anniversary, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic described Srebrenica as “something that we should not and cannot be proud of,” but he has never publicly uttered the word “genocide.”
Several thousand Serbs and Muslims live side by side in impoverished Srebrenica, a town in eastern Bosnia with just a few shops in its center.
On Friday, the town’s Serbian mayor Mladen Grujicic — who was elected in 2016 after a campaign based on genocide denial — said that “there is new evidence every day that denies the current presentation of everything that has happened.”
Bosnian Serb political leader Milorad Dodik has also described the massacre as a “myth.”
But on Friday, the Muslim member of Bosnia’s joint presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, said: “We will tirelessly insist on the truth, on justice and on the need to try all those who have committed this crime.”
“We will fight against those who deny the genocide and glorify its perpetrators,” he said at the memorial center where he attended a collective prayer.
In order to avoid large crowds on Saturday, organizers have invited people to visit the memorial center over the whole month of July.
A number of different exhibitions are on display, including paintings by Bosnian artist Safet Zec.
Another installation, entitled “Why Aren’t You Here?” by US-Bosnian artist Aida Sehovic, comprises more than 8,000 cups of coffee spread out on the cemetery’s lawn.
“We still haven’t answered the question why they are no longer here,” she told AFP.
“How could this have happened in the heart of Europe, that people were killed in such a terrible way in a UN protected area? Not to mention the fact that the genocide is still being denied.”