Trade has once again been a cornerstone of Dubai’s economy this year with non-oil trade reaching Dhs 652bn in the first half of 2015, keeping in mind the turbulent times that we have seen due to the fall in oil prices and other global events.
China led the list of Dubai’s top trading partners, followed by India and the United States. Our transport and logistics sector has been resilient with Dubai International Airport being the busiest airport for international passenger traffic.
However, we need to tread carefully in 2016 with a continued focus on the diversification of the economy and the identification of new markets, and industries.
There is no denying that there are challenges ahead and that is why we are exploring new markets through international expansion and building on Dubai’s competitiveness via global events, conferences and trade missions.
We are planning to open two new offices in the first quarter of 2016, in Mozambique and Kenya. We already opened an office in Accra, Ghana, in 2015. This expansion is representative of how important the African continent is for us. It offers immense investment and trade opportunities.
We successfully organised the third Africa Global Business Forum in November with 1,300 delegates from 50 countries. With the theme ‘New Drivers – New Partners’ we wanted to identify avenues of mutual cooperation between Africa and the Arab region.
In 2016, we will also be continuing with our Global Business Forum series by focusing on two new regions – the Commonwealth of Independent States and Latin America. Through these events we provide a platform for businesses and governments from both sides to engage in a dialogue on mutual cooperation.
Continuing our focus on the Islamic economy, we will also be organising the Global Islamic Economy Summit in 2016.
Another area of focus for Dubai has been innovation. The emirate has long understood that being innovative is a necessity for being competitive and surviving the ever-changing global landscape. However, we also realised that we lacked a benchmark for measuring innovation. This is what prompted us to set up the Dubai Innovation Index and the Innovation Lab, to encourage the growth of the private sector.
We have also tried to promote innovation through our existing programmes such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Innovation Award. We have also been consciously focusing on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and providing guidance through our programmes.
Dubai is becoming the epicentre of the new silk road that connects East and South West Asia. In fact, the emirate is extending this link further to Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. With a strategic location, stable economy, world-class infrastructure and ease of doing business, coupled with the Expo 2020, we have a lot to look forward to.
The lead up to the expo will also positively impact various sectors such as retail, tourism, hospitality and trade. On our part, we are hosting the 10th World Retail congress in 2016 and this is the first time the Congress will be held outside Europe.
The vision for Dubai to become a smart city will have a positive impact on the economy by making services faster, more efficient and more convenient. Dubai’s diversity and our ability to identify and connect with new markets has had, and will continue to have, a positive impact on the competitiveness of the emirate.