Business / Economy

UAE can play unique role in the "Belt and Road" initiatives

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-04-14 10:44

Other UAE projects that link the nations along the silk road are the ports Jebel Ali in Dubai and Kizad in Abu Dhabi. Kizad, which stands for Khalifa industrial zone Abu Dhabi, was opened in the fall of 2012 and is slated to become a vital part of Abu Dhabi' s strategic plan 2030, to diversify the economy away from oil and to link Africa with the "Belt and Road" countries.

Dubai's Jebel Ali, on the other hand, harbors the biggest man-made container port in the Middle East as well as the headquarters of Dubai Ports (DP) World, the word's third biggest port operator.

"Expansions currently underway at the port will bring total handling capacity to 19 million TEU in the second half of 2015," said DP World chief operations officer Mohammed Ali Ahmed. He added that Jebel Ali will be able to handle 10 of the giant new generation vessels at the same time, the only port in the region able to do so.

DP World shares are listed on the Nasdaq Dubai, the only international capital market in the Middle East by regulatory standards. The Nasdaq Dubai as part of the financial free zone DIFC aims to play key role in the UAE's shift to the east as well and to build financial bridges between Africa and the road and belt.

The DIFC which harbors 22 of the biggest banks in the world managed to attract the four Chinese bank giants, ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Bank of China. DIFC governor sees the center perfectly located to catalyze funds to finance projects along the road and belt region, he said.

The DIFC is also home to the Dubai mercantile exchange, the only international exchange for crude oil derivatives. Its strong growth since inception in 2007 is mostly based on attracting oil-related firms from Asia which aim to hedge their assets against fluctuations on the oil market.

The Dubai multi commodities center or DMCC is another free zone that helps serve Dubai's role as a regional hub.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, CEO of the DMCC, said that the number of registered firms reached almost 10,000, making it the biggest of the over 25 free zones in Dubai.

According to Michel Convers, vice president Africa and Middle East at global logistics firm Brinks, Dubai had "the most advanced storage and logistics facilities in the region for any kind of goods, precious metals.

"That is why we as logistics specialists are very positive about China's Silk road initiative, the AIIB and Dubai's future role" in the "Belt and Road" initiatives, he said.

According to the Dubai customs, China surpassed India as Dubai' s biggest trading partner in 2014, when bilateral trade amounted to 175 billion dirhams ( $48 billion), an increase of 29 percent compared to that of the previous year.

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