Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi stated that the UAE Government Strategy for 2011-2013 aims for more strategic directions in trade and investment to maintain the country\'s\' strong global standing. Plans are underway to optimize strategic infrastructure and enhance multi-modal transport, encourage more local entrepreneurism, create additional jobs, introduce long-term reforms and capitalize on the technical, trade and economic agreements the country has signed with more than 30 countries, she added. In a speech delivered today at the 3rd Annual Trade Finance Middle East Conference at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai, she also outlined the various elements that make the UAE an important regional hub for trade and investments. Organized by Euromoney Seminars and Trade Finance Magazine, the conference has gathered the region\'s industry and government leaders to explore ways to enhance trade and create new and lasting business relationships. In her speech, Sheikha Lubna pointed to expanded trade, economic diversification and exceptional leadership as key factors to the Middle East\'s resilience against the global economic crisis. She nevertheless recommended taking a cue from the World Trade Organizations cautious forecast of a 6.5 per cent growth for the region. The Minister also discussed the important role of the GCC in sustaining the Arab World\'s growth, noting that the Gulf is more closely integrated in the globalization process compared to the rest of the Middle East. She later enumerated the various business and investment incentives offered by the UAE that have made the country a regional base for over 25 per cent of the world\'s top 500 companies, including a stable political landscape, an open economy, a modern banking and financial system, more than 30 world-class free zones, tax-free environments and close proximity to the top markets of Europe and Asia. Sheikha Lubna explained that the fruits of robust international trade were not all purely economic in nature: \"The benefits of foreign trade for our region are not just economic in nature; energetic trade has helped us strengthen our relationships with the global community, push ourselves to technological and infrastructural growth; broaden the participation of women in business, and diversify the types of employment available to our citizens. All in all, foreign trade has had a profound impact on the fortunes and the way of life of the peoples of the Middle East,\" Inspired by the ancient Silk Road\' trade routes, the UAE is also reinforcing and redefining its commercial ties with fellow emerging markets as well, with particular focus on short- and long-term investments, knowledge and technology exchange, human capital development, and managerial best practices.