Building Bridges

Hans Sandee,Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dubai and Commissioner General Expo 2020

By Shereen Shabnam

As the UAE gears up for the Expo 2020, we meet with Mr. Hans Sandee, Consul General for the Netherlands in Dubai and the Netherlands Commissioner General for the Dubai EXPO 2020 to find out about his career in diplomacy and the areas the Kingdom of the Netherlands will be focusing on during the upcoming Expo.

Born on 17 January 1964 in the city of Goes, The Netherlands, Mr. Sandee studied both history (specialization international relations) and law (specialization international and European law) at the State University in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

He joined the Dutch diplomatic service in 1990. In the early years of his career he worked both at the main office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague (Security Policy Department, European Department) and abroad in Lisbon, Brussels and Warsaw.

In 2003, Mr. Sandee served as head of the Security and Defence Policy Division. Subsequently he was deputy head of mission at the Dutch Embassy in Bucharest, Romania. In 2010 Mr. Sandee became head of the Migration and Asylum Division in The Hague and was appointed as Netherlands ambassador to Libya in 2014.

Mr. Sandee became Consul General for the Netherlands in Dubai and the Northern Emirates in 2016, and since 2017, he is also the Netherlands Commissioner General for the Dubai EXPO 2020.

During our interview, Mr. Sandee highlighted how the Expo 2020 provides the Netherlands a platform to share its latest innovations on water, food and energy as well as build meaningful relations and future connections in the GCC and beyond.

According to Mr. Sandee, The Netherlands wants to connect the future with the now and engage in debates about key issues facing the world today and how it will impact the future.

As it stands, UAE and The Netherlands are already exchanging knowledge and expertise on innovation in areas including food, water, transport, logistics and solar energy but Mr. Sandee visualizes that these areas and more will be enhanced during the Expo.

Mr. Sandee finds the UAE offers Dutch companies an environment that is business-oriented and conducive to investments. The two countries have mutual interests. For instance, the UAE has a lot of demand for water desalination and The Netherlands has experience in water quality.

The Netherlands also has expertise in gas, renewables and agriculture giving both nations areas to cooperate in and find efficient solutions to growing challenges including reinforcing cooperation in innovation.

In particular, Mr. Sandee sees a strong cooperation between UAE and The Netherlands in areas that include healthcare, aerospace, logistics with focus on the energy-water-food nexus. He sees the Expo 2020 as a wonderful meeting place for world cultures and a hub to generate meaningful business opportunities.

For those keen to visit The Netherlands, popular attractions Mr. Sandee highlights in the Netherlands include the music festivals and cheese markets.

According to Mr. Sandee, there are over 300 Dutch firms currently in the UAE in different industries and also a number of Emirati companies working in the Netherlands. The relationship is hence evolving positively as both countries have an innovative economy, a highly skilled workforce and a world-class living environment.To Netherlands businesses, Mr. Sandee advises that they prepare well and invest in relationships when they do business in the UAE.

Mr. Sandee names his parents as his role models and Nelson Mandela. He is married and has two children. His hobbies include travelling, reading, golf, tennis, and listening to music.  In Dubai, he enjoys walking in the old parts of Dubai and Kite Beach.

Looking back at his career, Mr. Sandee said he enjoys visiting different countries and the nomadic lifestyle and feels his family has a more enriched life with a global perspective. We wish Mr. Sandee, his family and his team all the best in their diplomatic journey and at the Expo 2020.

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