In its relatively short history, Dubai has transformed from a small coastal community into arguably the world’s most advanced economic centre.
Officially founded in 1833, the emirate was far from a global financial powerhouse, a far cry from those in the midst of industrial revolution across large swathes of Western Europe. Fast forward to today, and the rest of the world is now playing catch up.
A population of little over 2.6 million, the city’s GDP reached an impressive $82.87 billion in 2014, which translates to $24,866 per capita.
Rapid growth since 1965
Few would have envisioned the Dubai of today more than 50 years ago. Established in 1965 by a decree issued by the late Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry was formed with a clear mission in mind: ‘to represent, support and protect the interests of the business community in Dubai’.
Dubai Chamber began life with 450 members and 12 on its board of directors – now the organisation has more than 193,000 members which represents a 200-fold increase.
Its physical presence today comprises a head office, branch three further offices spread across the city. The branch can be found in Jebel Ali Free Zone and the three extra offices are located in Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA), JAFZA 14 and Dry Port Customs Building in Al Aweer.
Dubai Chamber’s portfolio of services has expanded in its bid to make doing business in the emirate as straight forward as possible. From dispute resolution and providing research to organising trade fairs and offering legal advice, the organisation has more than succeeded in promoting Dubai as an international business hub.
Helping to put Dubai on the international are international industry events. In December Dubai Chamber and the University of Dubai jointly hosted the two-day World Finance and Banking Symposium at the university’s new premises in Dubai Academic City.
The global event, which was held for the first time in Dubai, saw the participation of nearly 200 academics and representatives from local and foreign banks who presented 174 research papers covering a wide variety of issues that are impacting the global finance sector
Commenting on the event, H.E. Hisham Al Shirawi, 2nd Vice-Chairman, Dubai Chamber, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious event as it aligns with Dubai’s strategy to become a knowledge hub for the wider MENA region, as well as a society that embraces new ideas and innovative thinking.”
In November, new research from the Chamber and PwC saw Dubai jump to 15th on the Global Innovation Index, a study of the 28 most innovative cities in the world. This year, the emirate moved up one position and outperformed business hubs such as Madrid, Milan, Shanghai, and Moscow.
New York secured the top position in the index, while London fell to fourth place after placing first last year. European cities ranked higher in general due to an increase in investments on skills and talent, while GCC cities scored high marks in the political, economic and social indicators category.
The Dubai Innovation Index, one of the leading pillars of the Chamber’s innovation strategy, highlighted the Dubai government’s ongoing efforts in spearheading innovation initiatives in the emirate, the private sector’s significant contribution, and increased public-private sector collaboration.
The Chamber is also recognising innovation of regional GCC businesses. On February 21, distinguished international and local business leaders and top executives will gather at the Dubai Chamber Award Ceremony to recognise and celebrate companies that exhibit exceptional business performance that contributes to the economic development of the GCC.
The perfect partner
It is perhaps fitting to end with a snapshot of the President and CEO Hamad Buamin’s message, published alongside the launch of the Chamber’s new website, granting access to businesses all over the world to all they need to know about trading with Dubai.
He says: “The whole approach of the website is to assist you in doing business in Dubai, with Dubai, as easily and profitably as possible. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement that will help you grow your company and will also help Dubai maintain its position as one of the world’s top cities in terms of the ease of doing business. We are confident that you will find us your perfect partner in prosperity.”