Representatives of top corporations in the UAE, accompanied by high-potential investors, property developers, hotel owners, and leaders in the hospitality and real estate industries, converged in the iconic settings of the Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi and the Armani Hotel at Burj Khalifa in Dubai to explore, understand, and assess the investment potential of Sri Lanka, with particular emphasis on the transformative Port City Colombo project. This elite gathering took place in the presence of the ruling families of the UAE, engaging in a structured conversation led by the Rt Hon David Cameron, former British Prime Minister, who outlined a compelling case for investing in Sri Lanka. The discussion was moderated by the Hon. Niranjan de S Deva Aditya, a former British and European MP currently serving as the Presidential Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka, the Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The event was held in partnership with Port City Colombo’s regulatory authority, the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, and the primary developer, CHEC Port City Colombo, with the invaluable support of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, representing an astounding $12 trillion in assets.
Rt Hon David Cameron, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, engaged the audience in an interactive session with his insights on the fast-evolving trade and investment trends in the South-Asian region, the role of the UAE, and the pivotal role of Port City Colombo in transforming the global business landscape.
Commenting on Sri Lanka’s recovery over the last few years, Cameron stated that while the country has had its share of challenges, these challenges have also presented ample opportunity, with Port City Colombo at the center of such opportunity. Further commenting on the UAE, Cameron stated, “The UAE is a good case for the potential that can be reached if the right environment is created. I strongly believe Sri Lanka has the potential to reach this, particularly at this point, with all the right reforms taking place and supported by the commitment of President Wickramesinghe.”
The event provided guests with a platform for a dynamic conversation characterized by insightful questions and thought-provoking responses between Cameron and Hon. Nirj Deva. Cameron’s deep understanding of the Port City project, its immense potential as a progressive Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the heart of South Asia, and its significance on the regional and global stage shone through during these exchanges. His articulated compelling reasons for investing in Sri Lanka, and in particular, Port City Colombo.
The Commonwealth Union, representing 56 Commonwealth countries, played an integral role in this event in partnership with the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute and the Khaleej Times. The UK-UAE Trade and Business Council, spearheaded by Rt Hon Alistair Burt, former UK Foreign Minister and Minister for the Middle East, also contributed significantly to the event’s success. The State Minister for Investment Promotion, Hon. Dilum Amunugama, and the Ambassador to the UAE, HE Udaya Indrarathna, represented Sri Lanka, while Seyed Ansar Moulana from the Investment Promotion Ministry played a crucial role in facilitating the investment forum in the UAE.
The progressive regulatory framework of Colombo Port City’s Special Economic Zone, which enhances the ease of doing business and is overseen by an all-Sri Lankan Commission, captured the attention of the investor community. Additionally, the multi-currency designated SEZ dedicated to the export of services coupled with attractive fiscal and non-fiscal incentives with in-built investor protection mechanisms were hailed for their transparency, efficiency, and accountability qualities, often elusive in other jurisdictions. Offering tax incentives up to 25 years with the passing of key regulations for “Businesses of Strategic Importance”, Port City is poised to offer investors an exceptional gateway to the rapidly expanding Indian market, just 40 miles away from Sri Lanka—a market boasting a staggering 1.4 billion consumers and unparalleled growth potential.