INDIANAPOLIS - An economic development official from the United Arab Emirates is using a trade mission in Indianapolis to showcase economic opportunities in Dubai. Dubai FDI Chief Executive Officer Fahad Al Gergawi said Indianapolis is one of more than a dozen U.S. cities he and his colleagues have toured in the last four years that possess "significant strength in terms of international trade." Al Gergawi estimates some $240 million in exports from Indiana maker their way to the UAE annually.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Al Gergawi said the message to leaders throughout the state is that Hoosier companies can "utilize Dubai's positioning to grow their business." World Trade Center Indianapolis is hosting the delegation, which included meetings with Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger and Governor Eric Holcomb, as well as leaders from Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY).

Al Gergawi says areas of trading interest between Dubai and Indiana include advanced manufacturing, health care, agriculture and technology. He says Dubai is thought of as an oil exportation center, which he says isn't the case. "We're focusing on the positioning of Dubai and how can Indiana interact with this position," he said. "Dubai is a non-oil trade state and city. Our income from oil is almost one-to-two percent at the max and this is the contribution for our GDP, so we are very diversified, especially in the areas of freight, logistics, overall finance and tourism."

He says working in Dubai, which has one of the world's busiest airports and a major port, can help open up opportunities with trade partners through connections in the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and parts of Africa.