Dubai’s 2014 was a year of optimism fuelled by stable growth and positive future projections.
For my organisation, last year was a productive one. Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s members grew to over 160,000 companies and the vast majority reported confidence in their sector performance and that of the economy as a whole.
We launched several new initiatives, gained solid progress across our strategic objectives and made our contribution towards the national vision.
Promoting the benefits of doing business in Dubai is a major objective for us and we were successful in launching a new vehicle to attract international associations with thousands of members to set up shop in the emirate.
Dubai Association Centre, which we launched with our partners Dubai World Trade Centre and the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, will add a new dimension to the emirate’s cosmopolitan business community. Despite being its first year of operation, it has had incredible interest from worldwide associations.
Looking ahead, 2015 will be the UAE Year of Innovation. All government departments will seek to create a nurturing environment for innovation, while the private sector’s role will be to explore new horizons and attract national skills.
Dubai Chamber has been working to boost innovation in SMEs as these businesses form over 90 per cent of the country’s private sector. We have been working to find innovative solutions to their challenges, including funding and mentoring support. We have made a good start into this challenging area by providing more options for start-ups and young entrepreneurs and this will remain a focus for us moving ahead.
Another important area for 2015 will be new technology and the development of Dubai’s smart economy. One of the world’s most striking cities – for visual impact, can- do attitude and facilities – Dubai typically embraces new online technology.
The vision for Dubai to become a smart city will have a positive impact on the economy as services become faster, more efficient and more convenient.
As part of this push, Dubai Chamber is shifting its services online as well as developing new smartphone applications to facilitate doing business. We have also been working to grow e-commerce in the region through our exclusive partnership with Alibaba Group.
We will continue our push into Africa to open key markets and investment opportunities for our members. One major recent development has been the launch of our Africa gateway app that provides intelligence and information about doing business in the continent, and this year we will once again organise the Africa Global Business Forum.
Our other flagship event, the Global Islamic Economy Summit, will return for 2015 and we have plans to open up a new region to Dubai’s business community, which is the CIS region, where we have strong links through our Azerbaijani branch office.
The year 2015 also marks Dubai Chamber’s 50th anniversary. We were established in 1965 with just 45 members, and have seen incredible growth over the past five decades.
We look forward to supporting the business community through the next 50 years and more, and wish everyone a successful and prosperous 2015.