By Hamad Buamim
Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber, is confident that Dubai will achieve its growth targets this year.
As we outline our agenda for the New Year, we do so with a strong sense of optimism, direction and awareness of the objectives we hope to achieve in what will be a very pivotal point in Dubai’s economic diversification and development.
The emirate’s plans for building up its post-oil economy have become a lot clearer, and our government has laid the foundation that aligns our strategic location and infrastructure with our ambitions. Yet, we find the global economy in a much different place than it was a year ago, with oil prices expected to recover while uncertainty hangs over some leading economies.
Our belief that Asia and Africa in particular will become the main sources of economic growth in the future looks to be a more realistic outcome as income growth continues to rise within those regions.
Evidence of this shift can be seen in Dubai’s foreign trade which has seen a lot more momentum coming from exporters in Asia and Europe, who are utilising Dubai to enter fast-growing markets in Africa. China — currently Dubai’s top trading partner — saw non-oil trade with the emirate surging in recent years to reach $47.9bn in 2015.
This outlook has led us to step up our efforts in expanding to promising markets that offer the most potential for our members.
Our office in Shanghai, which we opened late 2016, will identify trade and investment opportunities for Dubai companies in line with China’s shift to a consumption based and innovation-focussed growth model.
The Chamber will be actively exploring prospects in Latin America and we are very excited to be soon opening our first office in the region within São Paulo. Establishing a presence in this market will be a crucial step in stimulating trade between the two regions and forming long-lasting relationships that will bring about mutual benefits.
With the Dubai Plan 2021 in focus, Dubai Chamber will continue to play an active role in communicating the government’s strategy to the private sector and encouraging them to contribute towards its plans. This year, we expect to see a lot more activity within the industrial, logistics, hospitality, education and healthcare sectors.
The second edition of the Dubai Innovation Index reveals that the emirate has successfully enhanced its position by making measurable improvements in a number of key areas, including innovation-focused investment and public-private sector collaboration. The index, which identifies metrics where we can improve, is a valuable tool that will help us build on our strengths and boost competitiveness.
Dubai Chamber will continue to promote innovation through our existing programmes, such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Innovation Award.
In 2017, we will continue to focus our efforts on creating the right infrastructure to support Dubai’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is central to the emirate’s growth strategy. Through the Dubai Startup Hub, Tejar Dubai, and our Smartprenuer Competition, we will extend our support to this segment by providing businesses with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.
In addition, we will continue to organise trade missions, high-profile events, seminars and workshops that are designed to better serve startups and SMEs.
Building on the success of our Global Business Forum series, we will hold a high-profile conference later this year focussing on expanding our trade links with Africa. The forum will enable us to expand Dubai’s footprint in key growth markets on the continent and explore new areas of mutual cooperation. The event is a crucial platform that brings together key stakeholders to network and explore trade and investment opportunities.
The Chamber is delighted to be supporting the World Retail Congress for another year, with Dubai set to host the 11th edition in April.
Beyond these initiatives, we will be working to attract more global events and associations to Dubai as they strengthen the city’s position as a growing knowledge hub. With Expo 2020 just around the corner, there is tremendous potential for businesses in Dubai to expand their reach to new markets, as the six-month long mega event is expected to host 25 million people — a majority of whom will be visitors.
That being said, we are bullish about the prospects that 2017 will bring, and remain confident that we will achieve our economic growth targets given the strong commitment of the government, private sector and society as a whole.
Hamad Buamim, President and CEO at Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry