The Dubai Business Forum, a transformative global event powered by Dubai Chambers, commenced today with insightful discussions on the future of globalisation and foreign direct investment. Hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the forum welcomed a stellar lineup of distinguished guest speakers.

The morning sessions started with an inspiring keynote address by H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy, who highlighted the nation’s pivotal role in enhancing regional trade partnerships and domestic economic growth. “The UAE’s strategic location and world-class infrastructure have continued to drive trade growth. With the signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnerships Agreements (CEPAs) with key developing countries, including India, Indonesia, and Turkey, the UAE remains an instrumental gateway to regional and global markets. We expect the overall trade volume to increase further this year as we expand trade agreements,” said H.E. Al Marri.

“Today, the global economy is witnessing rapid shifts that have tested the resilience and adaptability of countries worldwide and have posed significant challenges to economies around the world,” observed H.E. Al Marri. “Yet, the UAE has demonstrated extraordinary resilience in the face of these challenges. The nation has remained committed to its principles of economic diversification, openness, and sustainability.”

“The UAE economy grew by 3.7% in real terms in the first half of 2023,” said H.E. Al Marri. “This represents robust growth against global and regional uncertainty and is still a higher figure than any of the other GCC countries. Moreover, the non-oil sector registered a growth rate of 5.9%. The UAE’s economic growth is a testament to our resilience, diversification, and commitment to openness and international cooperation.”

H.E. Al Marri stated that the UAE’s strategic investments in non-oil sectors, innovation, and technology have positioned the nation as a regional leader in various industries, noting: “The performance of the national economy has exceeded expectations, supported by structural reforms such as 100% foreign ownership, the enactment of the commercial transactions law, and the revamp of the residency system. Our ongoing commitment to pro-business reforms and incentives continues to foster investor confidence. We anticipate a GDP growth rate of 3.6% this year, mostly driven by the non-oil sector.”

As a central global hub connecting major trade routes, Dubai’s strategic location and advanced infrastructure have elevated the city’s status as a destination of choice among major international companies, investors, and skilled talents. The Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) is set to enhance Dubai’s reputation as a fast-growing and attractive centre for business and position the emirate among the top three cities globally.

Finding the Balance Prioritizing Regional and Global Trade- H.E. Abdullah Bin Touq Al Marri

A fireside chat with H.E. Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, explored D33’s enabling framework for international businesses and the economic outlook for Dubai. He said that to double the gross domestic product, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has set obvious targets and directed departments to ensure timely delivery, stating: “The public and private sectors are working together for the prosperity of the people and to boost Dubai’s economy. Both have come together harmoniously to ensure every opportunity is leveraged to deliver prosperity to the people.”

H.E. Al Marri highlighted that Dubai’s growth is accelerated by digitalisation, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which help to attract new companies and global talent. With the city set to host COP28 later this month, sustainability is a priority for the UAE, and the nation has pledged to reduce emissions.
H.E. Al Marri added that Dubai is today among the top three tourist destinations in the world. “Our tourism strategy is very carefully developed, and Dubai is a top destination for leisure, business and health tourism,” he said.

H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) highlighted the sustainability vision of the UAE’s wise leadership. He said that DEWA is “fully committed” to helping achieve the goals of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.

Learnings from the Region to the World by Jean-Claude Trichet.

“DEWA is implementing several projects to diversify clean energy sources. These include a hydroelectric power station in Hatta, the first in the GCC region, and green hydrogen production using solar power, part of DEWA’s roadmap for a green hydrogen strategy.”

Reiterating DEWA’s focus on leveraging technological achievements, H.E. Al Tayer added that DEWA is the world’s first utility company to use nanosatellites to improve the maintenance and planning of electricity and water networks and the first local government entity to launch a virtual platform using Metaverse technology.

Zooming out for a bigger perspective, the forum examined the region’s post-pandemic resilience. A discussion with Jean-Claude Trichet, Former President of the European Central Bank, took a deep dive into the Middle East’s ability to reboot its economy in the face of global uncertainties.

Highlighting the key factors contributing to the region’s strength, Trichet stated that the UAE’s economic resilience is remarkable, particularly with the world facing many critical challenges. “As the number one destination for FDI in Western Asia, I am impressed with the UAE’s GDP and steady growth. The leadership here is focused on modernisation, and this is remarkable for the flourishing businesses in this region.”

Trichet said other countries can learn from the UAE: “Here, peace and stability are ensured, and the government is capturing the best possible startups. With the country hosting COP28, the UAE sends a powerful signal to the world to focus on sustainability and green energy. If we could be convinced that the Paris Agreement will be respected, it will be the success of COP28.”

Held under the theme ‘Shifting Economic Power: Dubai and the Future of Global Trade,’ the Dubai Business Forum brings together key stakeholders from the government and private sectors across the globe to explore strategic economic partnerships, develop international networks, and open new horizons for business, trade, and investments. The landmark global event is hosted at Madinat Jumeirah from 1-2 November.

H.E. Al Marri