New trade ties with Asia
You’ve seen a shift of focus from the Asian market and China. There are a lot of lessons learned from the global recession. China is no longer looking at just being the manufacturing capital of the world. They’re looking to put their eggs not in one basket but are focusing also on Central Asia. You also see the UAE and Dubai connecting, whether it’s through freight and logistics or through airlines and ports. It’s an ongoing progress, and it gives you a glimpse of what more is to come. You see very strong trade ties and relations with India – you see it all over – and I believe that other regions will come through. We have around 130 companies from China set up in DMCC. I see that number growing in the future.
African business connections
Relations are very strong between the UAE and Africa. Emirates Airlines has a big presence there, focusing not just on passengers but also on the trade side of the airline industry. You have DP World operating over there, and a lot of connection between Dubai and the other regions. But as well you have people from Africa staying in Dubai to conduct some of their business.
Mitigating risks amid global volatility
It’s an interesting time for a lot of economic analysts who are looking at this. It’s tough to see gold taking a beating at the same time as the stock market and the financial institutions are taking a hit. But there are opportunities in that. There were expectations that, for example, the Chinese market would go down even further, but that didn’t happen. And we’ll just wait and see; that’s a glimpse in the future; if I knew that, I’d be in another business. China has not slowed down: they’re still going full-throttle on infrastructure – initiatives like One Belt, One Road and the Maritime Silk Road – and this keeps the confidence in the markets up. And despite these challenges, no one in business actually expects business to be always booming. There will be tough times: it’s a matter of mitigating that.
Construction continues in Dubai
A few years ago people said that Dubai has built too much. But we are running out of office space, Dubai is expanding, and some of its retail projects are focusing on all fronts – whether it’s tourism with the Dubai Eye initiative, or the recent Meraas project with the world’s tallest residential tower and the world’s largest indoor ski slope. These are great initiatives, and will be delivered in a record time, as is known about Dubai.
Diamonds and commodities
Dubai is one of the top three diamond centres in the world. We’re sitting on the tallest diamond tower in the world. We have most of the top diamond traders and industry leaders here in DMCC. That being said, we’re not going to sit on that achievement. We’re looking at other opportunities where we can link up DMCC with different commodities that make sense for this region as well.
What’s important is that we see it through, that we don’t fall into reservation. It’s easy not to do anything, but life would be really boring if you’re avoiding challenges, and if you’re not looking to innovate. It’s very important to provide convenience, to make sure that the city’s competitive level is not only the top in this region but among the top cities in the world. That’s where Dubai is looking, and I believe if it does reach that, I don’t think we would settle for that as well.