By Hamad Buamim
Finance and investment: a turning point for Dubai's digital economy
As we outline our objectives for 2018, we cannot help but feel a strong sense of optimism about the prospects that lie ahead as Dubai begins a new chapter in its economic development.
Technology continues to evolve rapidly and disrupt established business models. Consumers are increasingly turning to e-commerce and demanding digital technologies and solutions, which has put pressure on businesses to keep pace with such trends.
The emirate has taken a proactive approach to embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution by launching progressive policies and positioning itself as an early adopter of disruptive technologies, such as blockchain, smart city solutions, 3D printing and artificial intelligence (AI).
Evidence of this trend can be seen in the growing investments being made in the digital sphere. Recent analysis revealed that spending on information, communication and technology has grown steadily in the UAE, reaching $4bn in 2016. The number of fintech startups targeting the Middle East and North Africa continues to grow rapidly with Dubai serving as a strategic hub for companies operating in this emerging sector.
Digitalisation and smart technologies are reshaping global trade and commerce, improving efficiency of cross-border transactions, and expanding companies’ access to new growth opportunities around the world.
We at Dubai Chamber have prepared for this shift by making innovation, entrepreneurship, and e-commerce key focus areas under our 2017-2021 strategy. Providing businesses in Dubai with valuable knowledge and tools they need to succeed in a fast-changing business world will continue to be a major focus for the Chamber going forward.
We see 2018 as a year of transformation as considerable headway will be made in executing the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 and achieving the objectives of the Dubai Plan 2021. New projects and initiatives will help grow industrial exports and accelerate the emirate’s economic and social progress.
Expo 2020 will be another important factor driving economic growth in 2018, as infrastructure spending is expected to account for 21 percent of government expenditure in Dubai during the year.
We look forward to seeing key projects and initiatives come to fruition and learning more about the attractions and features that will make the mega event unlike any other expo in history.
As the UAE’s economy expands and matures, it is only natural that new systems be put into place that support its growth. The introduction of value-added tax (VAT) in the country will create a more stable revenue source for the government, which will boost business and investor confidence, and we are confident that such measures will help improve transparency in the future.
In the global arena, Dubai is strengthening its economic relations with its top trading partners in fast-growing emerging markets. China remains the emirate’s largest trading partner, accounting for more than 25 percent of the emirate’s non-oil trade in the first nine months of 2017, followed by India.
These trends reflect a global shift in economic power to Asia, which we have anticipated for some time. In line with the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Chamber will continue to expand its presence in growth markets with new representative offices set to be opened in India and Argentina in the near future.
In 2018, our Global Business Forum (GBF) series will put the spotlight on Latin America, which remains one of the world’s fastest-growing regions.
We see huge potential that has yet to be explored within the region’s agriculture, logistics, tourism and manufacturing sectors, and we will plan to use the GBF platform to strengthen Dubai’s position as a global gateway for Latin American companies.
That being said, we are bullish about the exciting business opportunities that the New Year will bring.
As we work towards our goal of becoming the best chamber of commerce in the world, we endeavour to continually improve Dubai’s competitiveness and make a lasting contribution to the emirate’s economic growth and progress.