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Ljubljana, 15 December 2016 – Today, Grand Hotel Union in Ljubljana was the venue of the first Gulf Day International Conference, which was opened with introductory addresses by Minister Karl Erjavec as the patron of the conference, and GCC Secretary General Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. The aim of the conference was to identify development challenges and opportunities in the states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), and deepen bilateral ties with its six member states. 

“I am pleased to open this event, which reflects Slovenia’s determination to substantially enhance its cooperation with the Gulf region in all areas of mutual interest,” stressed the Minister, adding that only closer ties between the Slovenian economy and the economies of the Gulf States can yield foreign direct investments.

At the conference, both Slovenian and the Gulf States representatives identified tourism as a one of the most important sectors in the light of future development. “We wish to step up our cooperation in this area, which is also why we are endeavouring to establish direct flights to Slovenia from one of the traffic hubs in the Gulf,” added the Minister, who expressed the firm belief that such a connection would further boost trade and investments.

With a view to deepening ties between Slovenia and the Gulf States, the Minister also highlighted the efforts to open (at least) one diplomatic in the Gulf region soon, adding that such a step should be mutual and that one of the countries participating in the conference should follow suit.

The conference centred on national development visions and economic diversification, climate change and renewables, as well as paradigms of international development cooperation. These topics are at the forefront of reflection in the Gulf States and in Slovenia (EU), so they present common ground on which the participants could define shared interests and the baseline for future cooperation.

In the first panel discussion “Development visions for a new global reality”, the speakers focused on global challenges such as climate change, the depletion of natural resources and the economic challenges of the region. The second panel concentrated on renewable energy sources, another area in which both sides expressed an interest, in view of increased economic cooperation. While   Slovenia is known for innovative small businesses and entrepreneurs working in renewables, the Gulf States are known for investing in innovations. The final panel touched upon development paradigms. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted in 2015 reflects the urgent need to create a development strategy and sets ambitious goals for developing countries. However, for a genuinely sustainable and sustained development, development cooperation must be based on three principles: the convergence of development policies, accountability at national level and coordination between various stakeholders, along with a sustainable, transparent, effective and responsible action.

Within the scope of the conference, Slovenian companies were presented with business opportunities for participating in the organisation of EXPO2020 in Dubai.