Dubai Chamber membership tops 231,000 in 2018

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Staff Report

A total of 14,476 companies joined Dubai Chamber in 2018, bringing total membership to over 231,000 and cementing the non-profit public organisation’s position as one of the world’s largest membership-based chambers of commerce.

Dubai Chamber’s total membership grew 6.5% year-over-year in 2018, and 36.7% over the 2014-2018 period, highlighting Dubai’s attractiveness as a global trade and investment hub.

Trade performance

Exports and re-exports of Dubai Chamber members grew steadily in 2018, reaching a combined value of AED 254 billion as the scope of export markets widened to an average of 173 destinations per month during the year. The value of member exports and re-exports exceeded AED 1.38 trillion over the past five years (2014-2018), reflecting the growing role of Dubai Chamber in facilitating and diversifying Dubai’s non-oil trade with other markets around the world.

Trade documentation

Dubai Chamber issued 803,000 certificates of origin in 2018, bringing the total number of certificates issued over the 2014-2018 period to 4.42 million. A total of 5,790 ATA Carnets worth AED 3.2 billion were issued and received by the Chamber in 2018. More than 24,000 ATA Carnets valued at over AED 19 billion were issued and received during between 2014 and 2018, reflecting the positive impact of the ATA Carnet system managed by Dubai Chamber in cooperation with Dubai Customs which facilitates the temporary entry of imports to Dubai that are often used for trade fairs, exhibitions and conferences.

International outreach

In 2018, Dubai Chamber stepped up its international outreach efforts by promoting Dubai at 80 overseas events, and organising trade missions to 34 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, China, Estonia, Latvia, Colombia, Azerbaijan, US, Saudi Arabia, France, Gambia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Panama, and Russia.

In 2018, Dubai Chamber hosted 1,852 delegations from 43 countries, marking an 83% increase compared to the 1,013 visiting delegations accounted for in 2017. The number of delegates hosted surged 71% year-over-year to 3,506.

International expansion

International expansion was a top priority in 2018 as Dubai Chamber opened new representative offices in Panama and India as part of its efforts to explore promising markets around the world and identify business opportunities that offer the most potential for its members. Plans are underway to open an additional office in Argentina in the near future as the Chamber strengthens its focus within Latin America.

Dubai Chamber’s international offices held 1,552 meetings with companies and investors that were keen to explore business opportunities in Dubai in 2018, marking a growth rate of 91% compared to the previous year.

Business forums and events

Meanwhile, Dubai Chamber organised and supported 34 events and business forums in 2018 which were attended by 5,498 participants. Among the most high-profile events were the 2nd Global Business Forum Latin America, 4th Global Islamic Economy Summit, 1st UAE-Caribbean Cooperation Forum, UAE-Greece Business Forum, UAE-Korea Business Forum, and the UAE-Moldova Business Forum.

The Global Business Forum Latin America 2018 was attended by 1,300 participants from 40 countries around the world. A total of 200 bilateral business meetings were held on the sidelines of the forum, while four MoUs were signed with the aim of enhancing economic cooperation.

Dubai Chamber and the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre organised the 4th Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai, the world’s largest event dedicated to all aspects of Islamic economy, in cooperation with Thomson Reuters as a strategic partner. More than 3,000 participants attended the summit, including heads of state, ministers, decision-makers, business leaders, experts and specialists from around the world.

Key achievements and activities

Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, described 2018 as a pivotal year for the Chamber marked by membership growth, international expansion, new initiatives, achievements and milestones which supported Dubai’s economic diversification strategy and enhanced the competitiveness of the emirate’s private sector.

Dubai’s position in the global arena has strengthened considerably over the last year, Buamim explained, as reflected in the growing number of international events that are being held in the emirate, adding that Dubai Chamber focuses its efforts on attracting international events such as The Retail Summit 2019 and the World Chambers Congress 2021. Global interest in the Dubai market continues to grow, said Buamim, with evidence of this trend seen in the rising number of international delegations hosted by Dubai Chamber year after year.

Stimulus initiatives

Dubai Chamber’s President & CEO explained that stimulus plans, business-friendly measures, eight governing principles and the 50-year charter unveiled in recent months reflect the proactive and forward-looking approach taken by the government which will ensure sustainable growth for a future-ready Dubai.

He highlighted the active role played by Dubai Chamber in launching new initiatives to support the Dubai stimulus plans, which included measures to reduce cost of doing business and the establishment of an advisory board to ensure a business-friendly regulatory landscape. In addition, Dubai Chamber conducted a study on the cost of doing business in Dubai, which was presented to Dubai Executive Council’s Strategic Affairs Council, he revealed, adding that the study helped Dubai Chamber evaluate existing challenges facing the business community.

Strategy outlook for 2019

Looking ahead, Buamim said Dubai Chamber is focused on enhancing the competitiveness of its members at home and abroad. The Chamber will support The Retail Summit 2019 in Dubai, and organise the 3rd Global Business Forum Latin America in Panama City in April 2019, followed by the 5th Global Business Forum on Africa later this year.

“We are studying new markets in various regions of the world, including Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, and the Baltic States as potential destinations for future international offices. These markets are evaluated based on several criteria, including the competitive advantages they offer our members, ease of doing business, growth opportunities, and political stability,” said Buamim.

Policy advocacy

Enhancing its policy advocacy efforts, Dubai Chamber reviewed 48 draft local and federal laws, ministerial decisions and regional and international agreements during 2018, which related to various aspects and matters related to the business community in Dubai, including product safety, foreign direct investment, consumer protection, real estate regulation, and the Commercial Companies Law, among others. The number of draft laws and ministerial decrees reviewed by Dubai Chamber over the past five years stood at 200.

Support for startups

Dubai Startup Hub, an initiative of Dubai Chamber and a key focus of its entrepreneurship strategy, saw the number of registered members increase to 2,067 in 2018, while it expanded its range of programmes, services, events and other offerings in line with the evolving needs of Dubai’s fast-growing startup community. The third edition of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition attracted 300 submissions which fell into the categories of artificial intelligence, blockchain and digital transformation. A total of 285 applications for the first two editions of the Market Access programme were received and several deals were signed between startups and established companies in Dubai.

Innovation and smart services

The Digital Silk Road project was unveiled by Dubai Chamber as part of the Dubai 10X initiatives launched by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the board of trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation, with the mission of accelerating Dubai’s growth 10 years ahead of other cities of the world. The Digital Silk Road platform uses blockchain technology to increase transparency of supply chains, and aims to enhance the global trade system by enabling accelerated business transactions, increasing security, reducing counterfeit goods, and providing reliable information to parties.

Dubai Chamber continued to develop and expand its variety of smart services and easy-to-use efficient solutions designed to meet the evolving needs of its members and Dubai’s fast-growing business community. These solutions have enabled majority of Dubai Chamber services to be accessed online or via an application, be it to make payments, apply or renew company membership, Certificates of Origin or ATA Carnets.

Dubai Chamber unveiled the findings of the 3rd Dubai Innovation Index which showed that Dubai improved its ranking to place 14th among 30 global cities. The findings of the Index are available on the Dubai Innovation Index Portal, an interactive online portal launched in 2018 which provides access to valuable insights and analysis on a city and industry level, in addition to a wealth of data which has been collected over the last few years.

Legal and arbitration services

The Chamber’s legal department raised awareness about the impact of the new regulation impacting businesses and professionals in Dubai through a series of workshops. The Chamber also continued to play the role of a mediator to settle commercial disputes amicably. In addition, the legal department received 480 cases in 2018, of which 185 were resolved.

Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), an initiative of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, continued to provide impartial and efficient administration to commercial disputes. In 2018, six new associate members joined DIAC, bringing the total number of listed arbitrators to 135. A total of 168 cases were registered with DIAC in 2018, of which 130 were resolved.

Market insights and e-commerce

In 2018, Dubai Chamber’s Economic Research Department compiled 30 business intelligence, market, sector and economic trends reports and published 48 economic bulletin articles, four market snapshots, and 39 factsheets. The department conducted 24 price surveys and 5 business surveys tracking the business expectations of companies in Dubai. The department updated 12 databases covering foreign trade and socioeconomic statistics for the UAE and Dubai and produced 28 reports using information from these databases. A total of 16,504 information services were provided to Dubai Chamber members and non-members, 11,630 customers used Dubai Chamber’s online e-library, and 780 business reports were sold through the Credit Rating service.

CSR and sustainability

The Centre for Business Ethics organised 28 events in 2018, attended by 2,898 participants from 576 companies. Among the most highly-attended events was the Dubai Dialogue 2018 conference which attracted 150 participants from different sectors and industries who discussed the role of advanced technologies in enhancing CSR and sustainability practices. – abdulbasit@theuaenews.com