Within only a few decades, Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing village to becoming a mega-city and high-tech hub that today rivals Silicon Valley.
Shenzhen’s remarkable journey is one that shares many similarities with Dubai’s growth story.
The two economies are investing heavily in developing new industries and technologies, while creating a conducive business environment that attracts top talent and leading companies from around the world.
Having recently visited Shenzhen as part of a Dubai Chamber delegation visit, I can tell you that this thriving metropolis is a true reflection of China’s vast business potential.
The smart city is at the epicentre of the country’s ambitious strategy to transition from a manufacturing base to a global innovation hub that can serve as a model for other major Chinese cities.
More than 90 per cent of the world’s electronics are made in Shenzhen, and the gadget capital is home to many of the world’s tech giants, as well as promising start-ups that are leveraging the high-tech hub to test out cutting-edge solutions.
Ideal entry point
These strengths make Shenzhen an ideal market for companies in the UAE that are keen to expand their operations abroad, adopt advanced technologies and collaborate with Chinese partners who can offer valuable expertise.
As part of efforts to identify new growth opportunities for its members, Dubai Chamber recently announced its plans to expand its presence in China with a new location in Shenzhen, following the opening of a representative office in Shanghai three years ago.
By establishing a presence in Shenzhen, we are making a strategic decision to explore this dynamic market that offers tremendous potential for UAE companies, especially within the areas of ICT, trade tourism, manufacturing, financial service and logistics.
The move, which followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Dubai and Shenzhen last year, paves the way for new collaboration opportunities in a variety of economic sectors and fields.
As innovation leaders, the two economies would benefit by expanding their cooperation and knowledge sharing in new areas such as blockchain, e-commerce, fintech, artificial intelligence, smart city solutions and other emerging industries.
The recent expansion complements Dubai Chamber’s growing network of international offices strategically located across Africa, Eurasia and Latin America, which play an active role in facilitating trade and commerce between UAE companies and their global counterparts in promising markets.
In the few years that our Shanghai office has been active, the number of Chinese companies registered with Dubai Chamber surged by more than 50 per cent to exceed 3,300.
Meanwhile, Dubai-China non-oil trade has jumped by 36 per cent over the 2011-18 period to Dh139 billion last year.
We look forward to building our relationships with key public and private stakeholders in Shenzhen with the aim of capitalising on untapped potential and creating bilateral business opportunities in the process.
Through these efforts, we hope to attract many more innovative Chinese companies to Dubai that can support the emirate’s vision and transition to a global smart city and knowledge-based economy.
The outlook for UAE-China ties is looking bright at the moment with Dubai serving as a key partner of the “Belt and Road” initiative.
In addition, Expo 2020 will offer an ideal platform for China to showcase its economic potential and innovations, while Chinese companies can leverage this opportunity to expand their global reach through Dubai.
Hamad Buamim is President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of Paris-based ICC — World Chambers Federation.