Dubai has announced that 20 per cent of direct and indirect spending on the Expo 2020 event will be allocated to small and medium enterprises.
Under the plans, more than Dhs5bn ($1.36bn) of contracts will be allocated to local and international SMEs in the coming years.
Reem Al Hashimy, UAE minister of state for international cooperation and director general of Bureau Expo Dubai 2020, said 2,418 of the 6,196 suppliers registered on the government’s e-sourcing portal were SMEs.
Of the 787 contracts awarded so far, 320 have been won by SMEs, she added.
“SMEs are already playing a central role in the UAE’s drive towards cultivating a thriving private sector and diversified economy, which makes SME empowerment a strategic priority for the government,” said Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, minister of economy and chairman of the UAE SME Council.
“This effort is also aligned with the UAE Vision 2021 to transition to a knowledge-based economy that fosters creativity and innovation.”
The country’s Federal Law No 2, introduced in 2014, stipulates that 10 per cent of all federal government contracts are allocated to SMEs.
In addition, firms in which the government owns a 25 per cent stake must contract SMEs for at least 5 per cent of their total purchasing, servicing and consulting needs.
SMEs are estimated to comprise almost 94 per cent of companies operating in the UAE. The 400,000 SMEs also account for 60 per cent of the country’s GDP and are expected to account for 70 per cent by 2021.
“The integration of SMEs into the delivery of Expo 2020 Dubai is set to continue to stimulate employment, strengthen existing industries, improve SME competitiveness and ultimately contribute to sustainable economic growth. This will be an important part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy for the UAE and wider region,” Al Hashimy said.
She added that opportunities for SME participation extend beyond the physical expo site and six-month duration of the event itself.
“From the needs of our 30,000 strong force of volunteers, to the services required by international participants developing self-built pavilions, and the transfer of knowledge in the legacy phase, we are committed to working with the most innovative businesses of all sizes, spreading the opportunity as far as possible and capturing the spirit of the event.”
The expo procurement process has been modified to allow SMEs to bid more competitively including a proposal validity of 60 days, no tender bonds required, no advanced payment guarantee required, 50 per cent advanced payment for goods/materials, 25 per cent advanced payment for services, and a commitment to 30 days’ payment from receipt of an approved invoice, according to Expo 2020.
In June, Al Hashimy confirmed that infrastructure work on the Dubai Expo 2020 site was set to begin this summer and is due to be completed in October 2019.