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Netherlands to get an ‘Arab village’

Dubai: The Netherlands is stepping up its future investment plans, including the creation of an “Arab village”, to boost its tourism sector, a senior official said.

Investment plans worth eight billion euros (Dh39 billion) have been put forth by the Holland Business Promotion Office.

The plan could potentially take the Netherlands to the Olympic Games in 2028, 100 years after the last Olympic games in Holland took place in Amsterdam in 1928.

“We want to develop sports tourism,” Hans van Driem, Managing Director of the Holland Business Promotion Office, told Gulf News. “We want to bid for the Olympic Games in 2028.” The country is also looking at a bid for the Soccer World Cup in 2018.

It’s not only sports tourism that has taken up all the attention.

According to the fact-finding mission that put together the investment plan, Holland needs to add 15,000 new hotel rooms in order to keep up with the growing volume of visitors. Holland welcomes about 10 million international arrivals every year, Van Driem said.

As the standard of living in China and India is rising, the two countries can easily create a million visitors, he said. “We have made the statistics and we can easily build 15,000 hotel rooms.”

Recently, two airline companies announced their introduction of new services to Amsterdam.

As of next month, Emirates will fly its Airbus 380 which carries up to 500 people, while Garuda Airlines will fly from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Dubai starting in June.

“If we want to keep up the pace, we have to increase hotel facilities; we have to increase the number of attractions,” Van Driem said.

One of the big projects being discussed is the building of a European equestrian centre that would accommodate the popular Dutch equestrian sports and activities.

Part of plan

The renovation of three museums is currently underway too, and the building of modern museums and theatres, such as a national pop music museum and a national historic museum, is also part of the plan.

Another interesting cultural project is the building of an Arab village. Van Driem described it as a tool that would drive traffic from Holland to the Middle East and vice versa.

Big projects that need big money such as these have brought Holland in its search for investors to the UAE. “We are here to develop cooperation between the Dubai hub and the Amsterdam hub,” he said.

“We are looking for investors here to invest in Dutch hotels and to make this welcome atmosphere for specific markets such as India, China and the Middle East,” Van Driem explained. “We are looking for operators out of this region who would invest in five-star hotels in Holland,” he said.

However, investment in the Netherlands is not new to the UAE.

DP World, the Dubai-based marine ports operator, has a 30 per cent stake in the Rotterdam World Gateway consortium, a container-terminal in Rotterdam.

Trade between the two countries is also strong. According to the Dutch consulate general, exports from the Netherlands to the UAE reached $1.2 billion in 2009 while exports from the UAE to the Netherlands reached $860 million.

Such investments would be essential for Holland to remain an important hub that connects the UAE with Europe and the American continent, Van Driem said.

Source: Gulf News

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