Dubai: As much as 75 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil business with India goes through Dubai, according to Paras Shahdadpuri, chairman of the Indian Business and Professional Council.
“Dubai-India trade is on the up and Dubai represents almost 75 per cent of business with India,” he said. “With India’s economy booming, at about 9 per cent per annum, the UAE will be its natural beneficiary.”
Because of the emirate’s open trade policies, Shahdadpuri believes that trade between the two countries is set to grow even more.
Emphasising the size of Indian business here, he added that Indian investment in Dubai is the largest of any country.
“The number of Indian companies registered in Dubai, and its various free zones are, again, the largest foreign group. Indians are involved in literally every sector of the economy including retail, trade, manufacturing, financial services, IT, hospitality, tourism, health care, construction and real estate.
“Many Indian companies have created a strong brand equity [here] through their hard work and innovation. We feel that Indian companies have contributed robustly to the economy of the emirate. No wonder that a relatively small-sized country like the UAE stands tall with the highest non-oil trading businesses [that deal] with India, leaving behind large countries such as the USA, the UK, Japan, Germany and Russia.”
While Shahdadpuri confirmed the role of professionals in this upsurge in business between Dubai and India, he also pointed out that unskilled workers have made a huge contribution.
And he outlined a number of reasons why Dubai is attractive to Indian investors.
“Today Indian investors are not only investing in India, but are looking outwards and Dubai comes first on their list, given its strategic location in the Middle East, it’s proximity to India with over 450 flights a week, its strong cultural and social bonds, its excellent education and health facilities, and its safe living conditions.”
As a result, not only is trade between India and the UAE likely to grow, there are also strong indications that mutual investment between the two countries will also increase, with Dubai investors looking to India.
“For Indian investors, Dubai [is perfect] as a re-export hub and a springboard to launch businesses in the neighbouring countries and in Africa.”
Retail, hospitality, tourism and manufacturing are sectors currently offering investment opportunities for Indian investors in Dubai, he said.
However, Shahdadpuri pointed to the need for investments here to be more secure: “Although Dubai is an ideal business environment, I must confess that more has to be done to make an investor feel secure about his investments,” he said.
“Many laws need to be amended to make this happen. A foreigner who invests here expects it to be 100 per cent in his name and therefore local legislation must have provisions to secure such investments, even outside the free trade zones.”
The IBPC is also looking forward to the proposed company and investment laws, which will further facilitate business development in the region. “I see a great future for Indian investors and professionals in Dubai and we want IBPC to be a catalyst in developing this historic relationship and creating a win-win partnership between the two countries,” Shahdadpuri said.