Dubai Exports: Making the UAE globally competitive

Foreign Direct Investment
| The European | 1st February 2016
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Saed Alawadi, CEO, Dubai Exports

Saed Alawadi, CEO, Dubai Exports

Dubai Exports, an agency of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, Government of Dubai, was established to provide exporters with the services required to enter or expand foreign markets including trade information, branding advice, financial, legal and foreign trade representation and access to potential buyers. An important aspect of Dubai Exports’ activities is to be an advocate for exporters in their relations with governmental and semi-governmental agencies.

The emphasis of Dubai Exports’ strategy is to build exporter capabilities and thereby enhance their ability to penetrate foreign markets, in doing so, contribute to the Dubai Strategic Plan 2021. In addition to this, Dubai Exports seeks to create partnerships and promote links and mutual learning between exporters. Dubai Exports intends to develop internal processes that allow for organisational excellence, while being flexible and responsive to changing market conditions and regulations, so that it can continuously initiate new exporter assistance programmes.

The European caught up with Saed Alawadi, CEO, Dubai Exports to find out how it all works.

Q: Are Dubai’s exports mainly targeted at Islamic countries or does Dubai serve as a bridge between the East and West?
Saed Alawadi: Dubai’s exporters have been extremely successful in penetrating global markets and not those of just the Islamic world. Of course our partners in the Islamic world are important and we have initiated a number of projects to increase trade with them. For instance, we have established the Dubai Halal hub-to-hub platform, which through Dubai links the consumer and producer nations in the halal trade. This halal trade is not only limited to foods but cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, etc. Globally, the trade in halal goods has been estimated at above $6tn.

As well, as the traditional markets Dubai’s exporters have been successful in opening new ones. One key performance measure within Dubai Exports is the level to which it is able to assist exporters enter and extend their reach in new markets. In this respect, Dubai Exports long ago saw the need for exporters to diversify their markets. This foresight has proved to be highly successful especially over the last 15 months or so when many economies have been contracting.

Dubai Exports as an agency of Dubai Economic Development took a trade mission to South America which covered Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Although, trade links between these countries and Dubai exist they are somewhat marginal. Within months of the trade mission Dubai Exports was able to announce the successes with trade deals for Dubai’s companies. I am also proud to state that our innovative and successful methods of conducting Trade Missions have not only been reported in foreign media but also imitated by well-established trade promotion organisations. We have achieved a lot in a short space of time and we have not stopped working on developing new products and services to meet the ever increasing challenges of global commerce. We realise that our exporters need to be better prepared when entering foreign markets and hence we are working to increase their capabilities and capitalise on core sectors where the UAE has a competitive advantage. In this respect the Dubai Export Academy will continue to hold its highly successful seminars and training courses. We also plan to increase the global awareness of our products and services through specific industry forums and publications. Examples of this include an Islamic Financial Services Forum and Halal Directory. We believe that these activities will showcase the finest of Dubai’s products and services and open the door for other firms in the country to follow.

We believe that lobbying and advocacy on behalf of our firms is a never ending task, yet we intend to increase this role so that both the voice and concerns of our firms are heard at the highest level. In the area of overseas trade facilitation we hope to increase our network of overseas trade offices as well as Tradelink partnerships to continue to provide on the ground support to our firms. We strongly believe that our activities in the coming years will continue to make an even greater impact on the country’s exports.

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Q: Discuss the wider importance of the Islamic economy and Shariah compliant goods.
SA: Throughout the world, the Islamic population has become increasingly active in all spheres of life and commerce and therefore real partners in a global economic system. Muslims comprise one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world and represent a major growth opportunity for businesses around the world. We have seen recently with the international financial crisis that Western markets contracted but this was not the case in Islamic countries. Muslims are a new outlet from which to build a base for future growth. The market for Shariah compliant products or services that is, products or services that conform to Islamic law totals over $3tn annually and is growing rapidly. Today Shariah products are not only limited to financial services and food but include cosmetics, fashion, leisure and hospitality, arts and media, pharmaceuticals in fact in every sphere of business life. Therefore, we believe that this is truly a growth opportunity. Nor are Shariah compliant products limited to the Islamic countries and populations but target all those consumers that seek ethically produced goods and services. If we include the wider reach of Shariah compliant goods and services then we believe that our calculation of a $6tn market is grossly underestimated.

Dubai Exports has been working closely with various governmental and non-governmental entities, like the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC).

Dubai Exports: categories of service

Dubai Exports specialises across four broad areas:

Export preparation
Working with exporters in order to develop their export capabilities and creating an awareness of their products and services.

Export facilitation
Supporting the export activities of exporters through creating global networks, foreign market intelligence, trade events and financial assistance packages.

International assistance
Enhancing the exporters’ ability to penetrate foreign markets through the provision of market access and compliance data, advocacy and representation in foreign markets.

Buyer matchmaking
These services seek to link foreign buyers with appropriate Dubai based manufacturers and exporters.

Further information
www.dedc.gov.ae

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