The launch today of Franchise UAE, hailed as region's largest franchise and retail show, was dominated by Indian entrepreneurs looking to bring their brands to the Emirates.
Over 50 businesses are exhibiting at the three-day event, in a range of sectors from food & beverage to education, entertainment to jewellery, with Indian concepts making up 85 per cent of the total.
Mana Al Suwaidi, commercial attaché at UAE Embassy in New Delhi, said the Ministry of Foreign Trade was trying to "foster relations" in business and trade between the UAE and India.
"We want to bring entrepreneurs from India and directly meet with entrepreneurs here to facilitate trade," Mr al Suwaidi said. The UAE's leaders have placed a strong emphasis on the need to build young business leaders in the Emirates, he added.
The UAE has a large population of expatriate Indians, a market that many entrepreneurs at the event aim to capture, particularly as most of the current brands in the Emirates have been exported from Europe and the US.
Gaurav Marya, managing director for Franchise Middle East, the organiser of the event, estimated that nearly 60 per cent of the UAE population is from the Asian subcontinent.
"The event is Franchise UAE, so anything that is ready for this market we would like to bring in, but not necessarily just from India," Mr Marya said. "India is a strength area because the country has large brands that are already established."
Gitanjali Group, listed on the Mubai Stock Exchange and one of India's biggest jewellery players now aims to bring its brand to the UAE through franchising.
The company currently runs a joint venture with Damas, the Gulf's biggest jewellery company, in India, but would not be using this relationship in the UAE, said Karthikeyan Vishnu, vice president for retail at Gitanjali.
He said that Gitanjali is looking for entrepreneurs to set up individual units, for investors to look at a chain of stores, or for joint venture partnerships.