Business / Economy

Trade growth is Dubai's new 'desert miracle'

By LEI XIAOXUN (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-18 09:16

Trade growth is Dubai's new 'desert miracle'

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Since 1894, when Dubai launched its first tax-free port to attract regional business, the reigning Al Maktoum family has supported commercialism and mercantilism, and that legacy has helped shape Dubai's present-day economy, said an executive of the emirate's promotional advisory firm.

Cong Hongbin, managing director of Invest Dubai, said he was impressed by the remarks of the late Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum, who pioneered the business-centric path for Dubai and said that "anything that is good for merchants is good for Dubai."

Cong explained the concept with a Chinese paradigm: "I build the stage, and you perform." It refers, he said, to how authorities explore the best resources to establish a commercial environment and facility that will allow businesses to succeed.

Trade growth is Dubai's new 'desert miracle'
Cong Hongbin, managing director of Invest Dubai

He compared Dubai's small and medium-sized enterprises to cells that generate, citing the fact that more than 40 percent of the United Arab Emirates' GDP comes from them.

"The delicately interwoven business cells are the engine of Dubai's success, a living example of how a resource-scarce place can still flourish," Cong said. He also noted the importance of learning the city's history for people who want to live and work in the city.

"The vision of the Al Maktoum family, its determination and perseverance are what has built the incredible Dubai business model," he said.

Standing at the top of the Burj Khalifa, currently the world's tallest building, visitors can use high-tech binoculars to see Dubai's landmarks alongside photos of the same location few years ago, a decade ago and many decades ago with the help of satellite imaging and computing technology.

People marvel at seeing that where the phenomenal buildings and gardens of Dubai, the so-called "Miracle in the Desert", now stand was barren sand not that long ago, Cong said.

Being part of the seventh-most resource-rich nation in the world does not necessarily mean Dubai is as lucky as Abu Dhabi, which has 94.5 percent of the UAE's total oil reserves.

In order to diversify its economy, Dubai authorities turned their attention to the trade, services, logistics and financial industries. Even after 1967, when oil was discovered, the eighth Dubai ruler from the Al Maktoum family, the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, decided to use oil revenue to transform Dubai into an important commercial and cultural hub.

Existing ports were dredged and expanded, while new ports were constructed with loans from a variety of creditors. The Jebel Ali Free Zone soon became one of the busiest free economic zones in the world and now is the third-busiest transit trade port in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore.

Trade growth is Dubai's new 'desert miracle'

Trade growth is Dubai's new 'desert miracle'

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