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Manoj Sinha ropes in big Dubai brands for investments in Kashmir

 
By Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
New Delhi, Jan 6: Close on the heels of the tie up between the Emirates Group of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the government of of Jammu and Kashmir government for the construction of a big shopping mall in Srinagar, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has also begun negotiations with the LuLu group hypermarket chain, which has a significant footprint in the Gulf.


On a four-day visit in Dubai, Sinha is pursuing a Rs 60,000 crore investment for infrastructure development in Jammu and Kashmir which, according to highly placed officials, has evoked a substantial response in the Gulf.

On Wednesday, Sinha along with LuLu Group chairman Yusuff Ali MA presided over the signing of a MoU with LuLu Group in Dubai for setting up a food processing and logistics hub in Srinagar. The historic agreement was signed by the UT Government's Principal Secretary for Industries & Commerce, Ranjan Prakash Thakur, and LuLu Group's Executive Director, Ashraf Ali MA.

These are the first two Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Jammu and Kashmir where businesses have remained severely affected under the shadows of a 32-year-long insurgency and terrorism. Officials in the LG's troupe revealed to India Narrative that some more "highly significant MOUs" were in the pipeline and most likely to be signed during Sinha's current visit to the UAE.

Sinha also inaugurated the Jammu & Kashmir promotion week at the LuLu Hypermarket in Dubai. Speaking on the occasion, he said the MoU with LuLu Group would further expand J&K-Dubai collaboration and J&K-LuLu partnership. "Relations between India and UAE are long-standing and deep-rooted. People-to-people contact and trade have seen momentum in the recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Sinha asserted.

The collaboration with the UAE business groups has materialised weeks after the Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated a daily flight between Srinagar and Dubai. The flight has been operational even after Islamabad withdrew permission to its passage through Pakistan's air space.

"The world-famous GI tagged saffron has been launched at LuLu Hypermarket, which I see as a major step towards boosting Jammu Kashmir and Dubai partnership. LuLu group is already importing apples from Jammu Kashmir and with saffron, we are adding Kashmir's finest spice to the basket. I am certain this new beginning will take our trade to unprecedented levels," Sinha said. Pertinently, Jammu and Kashmir is number one in the production of saffron, apple, walnut and almond in India. The MoU with the LuLu Group will help J&K to reach out to shoppers at 190 LuLu hypermarkets across the GCC and Egypt.

A high-level delegation from Jammu and Kashmir, headed by Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce Ranjan Prakash Thakur, is currently camping in Dubai holding talks with various leading industrial groups for inviting investments and offering them incentives. The UT Government has already signed proposals worth Rs 44,000 crore with various industrial groups, the latest being an aggregate investment of Rs 18,300 crore with real estate developers.

The UT government, according to sources, is finalising the MoUs as several industrial groups have shown interest in investments in Jammu and Kashmir after studying the new Industrial Development Policy which was released in April 2021.

"We are in touch with various industrial groups in Dubai. The response has been very encouraging. Many top industrial houses are ready to invest in Jammu and Kashmir. We are drafting the MoUs and they will be signed during HLG's visit", sources said.

"We are relieved and happy that Jammu and Kashmir has emerged as a major investment attraction for some big business group", said an official.

Under the MoU signed in Jammu last week, Emaar Properties would develop a 500,000 sq ft commercial complex somewhere around Srinagar. In a recent statement, UAE's ambassador to India H.E. Ahmed Abdul Rahman Albanna said: "The UAE and India are comprehensive strategic partners and this project by EMAAR will be a landmark of Jammu and Kashmir".

"The UAE and India economic partnership is at an inflection point and we will invite other UAE investors to look at this opportunity too," he said. Mohamed Alabbar, Founder of Emaar, said the company intended to bring a world-class mall experience to residents of Jammu and Kashmir and also the tourists."EMAAR is also considering other investments into real estate, hospitality and mixed use commercial and residential projects in Jammu and in Srinagar," Alabbar said.

"The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has created a very attractive investment landscape, and this FDI project is a reflection of the close brotherly relations between UAE and India. We are looking forward to several projects being announced in the near future and significant employment opportunities being created in the process," said Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai.

The J&K government has opened the UT to the country's real estate investors by signing 39 MoUs worth nearly Rs 19,000 crore at the real estate summit in Jammu. As many as 20 MoUs were signed for development of housing projects, while 7 were inked for commercial, 4 for hospitality, 3 for infratech, 3 for film and entertainment and 2 for finance projects.

According to sources, the investment being pursued across India and the Gulf pertains to multiple developmental sectors including retail and wholesale businesses, hospitality, entertainment and tourism. In addition to Dubai, sources said, investors from some other countries had also approached the UT government for investment in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir has already finalised investment proposals to the tune of Rs 44,000 crore after floating the new Industrial Development Policy in April 2021. Officials are expecting the volume of the investment to reach between Rs 50,000 core and Rs 55,000 crore during Sinha's visit to Dubai. Addressing the UT's first real estate summit in Jammu on 27 December 2021, Sinha has fixed the target of Rs 60,000-crore investment.

At the time of announcement of the new Industrial Development Policy, the Government had anticipated investments to the tune of Rs 28,400 crore but now it is expected to touch Rs 60,000 crore and may go up further by the remarkably positive response from the domestic as well as the foreign investors. The UT government is planning to hold a larger real estate summit in Srinagar on 21 and 22 May this year.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

--indianarrative