The latest opportunities for trading and investing in Dubai were flagged up at a business seminar on the evening of 3rd October hosted by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce.
The event saw the ABCC join with Dubai FDI and the Corporate Group to organise a panel discussion with leading experts giving both British and Emirati perspectives on doing business in Dubai and with the UAE.
Dubai FDI is the government of Dubai’s investment development agency. The Corporate Group provides advice and support to companies seeking to operate in the Gulf region and benefit from the business opportunities.
The seminar attracted between 60-70 British business executives keen to learn of the latest developments in Dubai’s dynamic and diverse economy and to explore the many new opportunities that are available across a range of sectors.
In opening remarks, Mr Abdeslam El-Idrissi, Director of Trade Services, ABCC, stated that Dubai had led the region in economic progress and achieved remarkable success over recent decades.
The UAE was preparing for its centennial celebrations in 2071 and had adopted a clear vision of future prosperity.
Dubai was attracting billions in investment and bilateral trade with the UK was on an upswing, Mr El-Idrissi said.
Mr Ibrahim Ahli, Director, Investment Promotion Division, Dubai FDI, outlined the main characteristics that had contributed to Dubai’s economic success.
Mr Ahli began with a message from Dubai FDI’s CEO Fahad Al Gergawi, in which he spoke about taking UK-Dubai relations to the next level and encouraged more British experts and investors to partner with Dubai as it continues to build its infrastructure.
Dubai began as a trading centre in the 19th century but emerged as a major business and tourism hub in the 1980s. It now serves a market of 2.4 billion people all within five hours travel.
Dubai benefits from a strong government focus that has created a highly diversified economy where opportunities for investors abound.
He informed delegates that 47.5% of Dubai’s GDP came from trade, logistics and manufacturing between 2013 and 2016. It had recorded growth of 2.5% in 2016.
The wholesale and retail sectors were huge, contributing 27.5% to Dubai’s GDP in 2016, Mr Ahli said.
Real estate, financial services and transport contributed 10.1%, 10.6% and 11.6% respectively.
He stressed that Dubai was continue to invest in its infrastructure especially transport, hotels and leisure facilities, pointing to the huge potential for investor involvement.
Dubai was in need of more 3-4 star hotels as well as boutique hotels to cater for increased visitor numbers and family visits in particular.
Clean and renewable energy, aviation, ITC, medical tourism and pharmaceuticals were all expanding sectors offering numerous investor opportunities, Mr Ahli concluded.
Mr Ayman Al Awadhi, Corporate Group Managing Director, gave a detailed account of the legal framework and institutional structure of Dubai, in order to highlight the various options that were available to companies seeking to set up their business operations.
He explained the different types of commercial licenses offered, namely commercial, professional, industrial and tourism.
Mr Al Awadhi mentioned the opportunities for smaller firms that were opened up by the forthcoming Dubai Expo 2020.
Mr Brian Dent, Senior International Trade Advisor, DIT, explained the work of the UK’s Department of International Trade to support British companies trading overseas.
He said that the focus of DIT’s services was to help UK firms take advantage of the business that was available in global markets which it achieved through expert advice, trade missions and circulating regular business updates.
Mr Sid Keyte, Head of Sales MEA, Cash Processing Solutions Ltd (CPS), shared his insights of working in Dubai with delegates.
CPS, formerly part of De La Rue, provided the machines needed by banks and financial institutions to sort and check bank notes.
The company had succeeded in Dubai by working with its local partners and built a reputation based on trust.
Mr Keyte stressed the importance of building strong relationships and networking to achieve business success.
The final speaker, Mr Julian Lynn, Export Finance Adviser, UK Export Finance (UKEF), gave details of the financial assistance that the UK government was able to provide to exporters through UKEF.
Its institutional support and access to finance could be essential to enable companies to succeed in overseas markets and help avoid the risks that exporters can face.
Some 79% of firms supported by UKEF were in the SME category, he said.
During the financial year 2016-2017, a total of £3 billion had been distributed to support 221 exporters.
Mr Lynn stated that UKEF worked on the basis of the principle that “no exporter should fail through lack of finance”.
The presentations stimulated a lively discussion where issues such as the impact of Brexit and the expansion of Dubai’s sports facilities were raised by delegates. The seminar concluded with a reception and networking session.