Dubai and China — share big ambitions and projects

Dubai can offer Chinese an intellectual pool, official says

A panel discussion at the Dubai Week in China. During the event, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that it would open an office in Shanghai.

Dubai: Economic officials from Dubai travelled to Shanghai last week for a three-day trip with a clear vision in their minds: show the Chinese what Dubai has and can offer.

But the officials wanted to do more that just encourage Chinese investments to have bigger presence in the fast growing cosmopolitan emirate.

“Dubai can offer much more,” said Hongbin Cong Managing Director at Invest Dubai, Falcon and Associates, one of the organisers of “Dubai Week in China.”

“Dubai’s infrastructure, regional logistics, financial services and great connectivity offer Chinese companies the opportunity to grow from Dubai and beyond,” he added in an interview with Gulf News at the sideline of the event in Shanghai, one of the most famous and busiest cities in the world.

Apart from the political stability, business environment, and legal system, “Dubai can [also] offer Chinese an intellectual pool,” from different cities around the world, he added.

“Dubai is relatively small market, but it can be used as a launching pad for future growth in regional markets,” Hongbin said, adding that among the sectors that has the potential for growing relations between Dubai and China are solar energy, internet and technology, and hospitality among others.

Hongbin spoke during the first day of the event of his personal experience as a Chinese senior at Falcon and Associate, which is independent strategic advisory and Implementation Company that was established to deepen the understanding of Dubai’s vision nationally and internationally.

Chen Zhong, President of China communications Construction Company limited, told Gulf News that the “Dubai market is becoming more and more an attractive one for the Chinese businesses.

The company, which opened an office in Dubai in 1985, has projects worth of 100 million dollars in Dubai out of nearly 3 billion worth of projects in the region.

At the end of the event, which was held between the period of October 27 and 29, 11 agreements were signed between different economic fields, including trade, free zones, financial courts, commodities exchange, education, travel and duty free. Two agreements were signed by Jabal Ali Free Zone Dubai and two Chinese entities to promote the free zone and to encourage small and medium enterprises to open offices in the free zone, said Ibrahim Mohamed Al Janahi, Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer at Jafza.

“We are aiming to attract companies to the area. The more we attract more companies, the more we are supporting Jebal Ali Port and the more we see positive results. We are really hoping to be among the first,” Janahi told Gulf News. Jebal Ali Free Zone was launched in 1985 with 19 companies. Today there are more than 7,000 companies registered from nearly 120 countries, which includes 250 Chinese companies.

Moreover, there are also four of the biggest Chinese financial institutions registered at DIFC, said Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority. Their balance sheets constitute nearly 20 per cent of the banks’ balance sheets at DIFC.

“The market is full of opportunities,” Amiri told Gulf News. DIFC courts signed one of the agreements.

“You build relationships. Relationships lead to opportunities. Opportunities lead to agreements and trade,” said Gautam Sashittal, CEO DMCC.

“This week [Dubai week in China] is an evidence of the growing role trade has in bringing our world’s closer,” said Sashittal. “China is Dubai’s number one trading partner and the relationships that we have cemented this week will further underpin the role that DMCC is playing in boosting commodities trade — connecting directly with China’s belt and Road Initiative,” he added. He was referring to the Chinese initiative, which is also known as the One Belt, One Road Initiative, which aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa along five routes.

Dubai also signed an agreement with China to further boost the education bonds between the two sides.

“China comes at the top of the list of countries that send students abroad, mainly to US and UK, and Dubai is on their radar,” Abdullah Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) told Gulf News in an interview.

“They will benefit us and we will benefit from them. Today, people’s intelligence is not calculated by their IQ, but rather cultural intelligence,” he added.

Dubai has 26 branch of international universities, and one-third of the 26,000 postgraduate students at those universities are coming from abroad, he added.

Dubai, which prides itself of having the busiest airport in the world, also hopes to get a percentage of the Chinese tourists’ pie.

“If we get one per cent of the 200 million [expected Chinese] passengers by 2020, we are very happy,” said Nic Bruwer, Executive Vice President of Dubai Duty Free, in an press conference with Salah Tahlak, Executive Vice President of Dubai Duty Free to both Chinese and Arab media.

Though Chinese travellers constitute only 4 per cent of the total passengers at Dubai Airport, they spent between 8 and 12 per cent of the total travellers’ expenditures, official figures show.

Last year, Dubai received 450,000 Chinese tourist with an increase of 29 per cent of 2014. Currently, Emirates airline has more than 100 flights a week to several Chinese cities.

During Shanghai fruitful event, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and industry announced that it would open an office in Shanghai to further boost the bilateral trade and economic relations.

China was Dubai’s top trade partner in 2015 with nearly 47 billion dollars of non-oil trade, which is almost double the trade volume of 2010, “which means the growth percentage is high and steadily growing”, said Hisham Al Shirawi, Vice-Chairman of Dubai Chamber in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.

“The Chinese market is a very important one for the whole world, and china’s relations and activities are covering almost the whole globe,” he added.

“No country can ignore China, and it is difficult to enter any place without finding something Chinese-made,” he added.

The 100

“Dubai 100”, a pre-accelerator programme helping young innovators meet the health challenges of the future with their innovations, took part in the 3-day-event in Shanghai. At the end of the “Dubai week in China”, it announced the winner of its first regional boot camp in the Chinese city, and MoDoo, a digital health start-up that has developed an innovative wearable device that passively monitors fetal heartrate and movements during pregnancy.

A judging panel made of up investors and health care experts from China, Dubai and Europe made the selection.

The winner and another two teams, who were commended and offered places on the pre-accelerators, will join other selected teams from around the world to unlock global opportunities through clinical trials, investments and partnerships. Those who come to Dubai and got training for 100 days “will be ambassadors to Dubai’s innovation.” Said Roland Daher, head of Dubai 100 in an interview with Gulf News.

In 5 years from now, when the projects become more visible, “it will be known that it was supported very early in Dubai, and this is the message” to the world.

Dubai 100 was launched in January 2016 to support the UAE’s national innovation strategy through bringing young digital health innovators from different parts of the world to Dubai to test and accelerate solutions for global health challenges.

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