Dubai finished 2013 on a high. As the year drew to an end, we were successful in winning Expo 2020 and are now looking forward to what this incredible opportunity will bring our city.
Expo is forecast to add $23 billion to our economy, attracting 25 million visitors and creating over 275,000 jobs. This will be a fantastic boost across all economic sectors and we will see Dubai grow substantially as a result of the huge investments planned. Expo marks a new era for our city and I am certain that we will put on an event that the world will remember.
It was a good year for Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We continued with our internationalisation strategy that seeks to promote Dubai in key markets around the world.
This strategy saw us open our second international branch office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Africa is a major market for Dubai and we are positioning the emirate as a gateway into and out of the continent and seeking to increase two-way business and investment flows. Ethiopia is a gateway to the lucrative markets of east Africa and beyond and our office is already helping to facilitate business on the ground.
The first quarter of 2014 will see us open our third office, in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is another market that is experiencing considerable growth. Iraq as a whole, given its rebuilding efforts, has significant potential for Dubai businesses to increase trade and investment and the stability of the Kurdistan region offers a suitable base.
Throughout 2013, Africa and the Islamic economy were the two major themes for Dubai Chamber. First, we organised the Africa Global Business Forum in April, a major two-day event that attracted thousands of delegates and 40 government ministers from across the continent.
Then in November we organised the Global Islamic Economy Summit, the first conference of its kind to explore the full potential of this important, new industry. Not only did this consider Islamic finance, but halal food, halal tourism and lifestyle as well as SME development in relation to Islamic industries and halal certification.
In fact, both events were attended by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and were successful in positioning the city at the forefront of developments.
The Islamic economy will continue to be an important theme for Dubai Chamber in 2014 as we won the right to organise the 10th session of the World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai. This is one of the world’s largest gatherings to share knowledge, experience and expertise in Islamic finance and will see more than 2,500 global Muslim political and economic leaders in attendance in November 2014.
Looking ahead, 2014 promises to be another solid year of growth and development. Overall, the outlook is confident; business confidence is high and expectations are positive. We have much to look forward to in the years ahead, but first comes the hard work in preparation. I am sure that Dubai is more than up to the job.