2019 outlook: Emerging markets still offer huge potential for businesses in Dubai

Changing trade dynamics will bring new opportunities, writes Hamad Buamim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber
2019 outlook: Emerging markets still offer huge potential for businesses in Dubai
Open for business Dubai Chamber aims to support the interests of the business community in Dubai
By Hamad Buamim
Mon 07 Jan 2019 10:34 AM

Shifting trade patterns and the rise of anti-globalisation sentiment are just few key trends that businesses around the world will continue to watch in 2019 as they navigate headwinds and look for new growth opportunities.

Although political uncertainty and US-China tensions may continue to hang over the global economy, there is still reason to be optimistic about the changing global trade landscape. The new NAFTA replacement agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada is a positive development that would boost confidence in global markets once it is officially ratified by all three trade partners.

Innovative and disruptive technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence are transforming global trade and commerce as they boost efficiency of cross-border transactions and eliminate trade barriers. We are closely watching these global trends as we look for new ways to meet the evolving needs of Dubai’s maturing business community. As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is clear that the only constant is change.

Businesses that fail to adapt face the risk of falling behind and losing their competitive edge. In the UAE, the outlook looks bright with the IMF forecasting GDP growth in the country to rise from 2.9 percent in 2018 to 3.7 percent in 2019, outpacing growth projections for the Middle East and North Africa.

Strategic development plans and infrastructure projects related to Expo 2020 and higher oil prices will likely fuel this upward trend. Dubai’s rising role in global trade is reflected in the emirate’s non-oil foreign trade for the first nine months of 2018 which reached AED965bn ($262bn).

The stimulus plan and other pro-business reforms unveiled in Dubai over the last year were important developments that will not only facilitate trade, but also enhance the emirate’s reputation as an attractive investment destination.

We plan to attract more Indian companies to Dubai that can contribute to Dubai’s economic growth

We expect to see the positive effects of these proactive measures felt within the business community in the near future. The shift in economic power from the West to the East – a trend we have observed for some time – is expected to continue in 2019 with China and India serving as main engines that are increasingly accounting for a larger share of global growth.

Many emerging markets in Latin America and Africa still offer untapped potential, especially in key sectors where countries are looking to expand infrastructure, privatise and attract foreign investment. These regions are a major focus of Dubai Chamber’s international expansion strategy, due to their strong economic indicators, such as a rising middle class and increased consumer spending. Dubai Chamber’s network of international offices across Africa and Latin America are focusing their efforts on identifying business opportunities in these markets that offer the most potential for our members. At the same time, we are working to build relationships with key public and private stakeholders, attract foreign companies to Dubai and promote the emirate as a global gateway.

We are committed to providing businesses of all sizes with access to new opportunities

We are seeing growing interest among business communities in emerging markets that are keen to learn more about Dubai and the competitive advantages that the emirate offers. Evidence of this trend can be seen in high number of international delegations we are receiving at Dubai Chamber, as well as stronger participation in the Global Business Forum series, our flagship event platform that aims to expand economic cooperation between Dubai and promising markets across Latin America, Africa and the CIS region.

For the first time ever, we will be hosting the Global Business Forum on Latin America outside of the UAE in 2019 as we bring the international event to Panama City.

We look forward to leveraging this opportunity to capitalise on growing interest in Dubai and pave the way for new economic partnerships that support the objectives of the Dubai Plan 2021.

With Expo 2020 fast approaching, Dubai will soon be stepping into the spotlight and showcasing its brand, economic model and vision for the future to a global audience of 25 million visitors. International outreach and forging new economic partnerships will be paramount to this process as the emirate writes a new chapter in its success story.


Hamad Buamim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber

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