Construction of a “world-class” shopping mall that’s likely to double up as an entertainment destination in New Town in the outskirts of Calcutta and expression of interest in investment in various sectors of Bengal by the Emirate-based multinational conglomerate LuLu Group were among Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s takeaways from her ongoing visit to Dubai.
The investment possibilities were discussed at a meeting with Ashraf Ali, executive director of the group which operates a chain of hypermarkets and retail companies across the globe.
Banerjee in discussion with Ashraf Ali, executive director of LuLu Group Telegraph Online
As follow up to what Banerjee called an “incredibly fruitful day” at the desert city of the United Arab Emirates, the chief minister also reportedly had an effective session with Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE minister of state for foreign trade, on boosting trade and exports from Bengal to the Arab nation.
On the second and penultimate day of her stay in Dubai, the chief minister and her accompanying delegation also attended a business conference at the Ritz Carlton, Jumeirah on the upcoming Bengal Global Business Summit in November. Organized by the Consulate General of India in Dubai in partnership with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and trade advocacy group FICCI, the meet was attended by a host of industry captains from both Bengal and Dubai.
“Bengal is the only place where you can see unity in diversity, where members of every community visit all religious places. We don’t feel the titles or surnames, we feel the humanity. That is the purpose of our development,” Banerjee said at the conference.
Banerjee meets Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, MoS, Foreign Trade, UAE Telegraph Online
“The infrastructure is ready. We have 200 industrial parks. Land and land-use policies have been made available along with land maps. Along with offering a lease for an earmarked period, we have put in provisions to allow freehold rights, if you want to invest your money in the state,” the chief minister appealed.
At the LuLu Group meeting, where Banerjee was accompanied by state chief secretary HK Dwivedi and industry secretary Vandana Yadav, the two sides discussed several possibilities of engagement and investment such as “Retailing or setting up counters of Biswa Bengal products in their malls worldwide; Back-linkages for procurement of fruits and vegetables for all their stores from Bengal and setting up food processing centres; and the group’s expression of keen interest in fish processing, poultry, dairy and meat processing,” a statement from the state government read.
“We delved into a range of exciting possibilities, foremost among them being the prospect of a world-class mall in Newtown. We discussed the global promotion of Biswa Bengal products in LuLu Group's retail outlets,” Banerjee later posted on her X timeline.
Mamata gifts one of her paintings to the UAE minister Telegraph Online
But the chief minister sounded exceptionally pleased after her meeting with the junior UAE minister. “What an incredibly fruitful day it has been!” Banerjee wrote on her social media timeline and added, “Our discussions revolved around one key goal: elevating trade relations and exports from West Bengal to the UAE. I couldn't be prouder to announce that nearly 12% of West Bengal's total goods exports find a home in the UAE.”
“In our conversation, I had the privilege of showcasing the remarkable economic growth of Bengal which is well on track to reach a staggering GDP of 212 billion US Dollars by 2023-24,” the chief minister stated.
Banerjee extended invitations to the minister, the top brass of the LuLu Group and foreign dignitaries at the business conference to attend the state’s business summit which is scheduled to take place on November 21-22 this year.