There is more coming up at JLT and its surroundings, in the form of Uptown District and its super-towers. Image Credit: Supplied

Attention towards community living didn’t dampen DMCC’s appetite for business at JLT, or its zeal to continue to support its member companies thrive.

In 2015, it opened its dedicated, grade A office tower, One JLT, a 26,000 square metre space designed to LEED Gold certifications that galvanised the spirit of sustainability into a single, centrally located project.

Aside from infrastructure, DMCC was also keeping its eye on disrupting existing supply chains by offering greater value, two examples being tea and coffee. As a nation which produces neither commodity, DMCC needed to create the right environment to attract both sectors to utilise Dubai as a destination for packing, roasting, storing and/or reexporting, while remaining cost competitive.

In developing and launching both the DMCC Tea Centre in 2005 and DMCC Coffee Centre in 2018, Dubai emerged from obscurity to become the world’s largest re-exporter of tea while becoming responsible for the equivalent of more than 25 million cups of coffee since trade began.

A crypto magnet

Other nascent industries to have launched within the community include the Middle East’s first Google for Entrepreneurs Global Tech Hub with AstroLabs Dubai, while DMCC’s 2021 launch of its Crypto Centre has registered over 400 companies with interest from almost a thousand more.

As a diversified location, which consistently demonstrated a willingness to integrate new technology, DMCC signed an agreement with Etisalat Digital in October 2019 to make JLT the ‘smartest district’ in the region to live and work. As a consequence, the community was equipped with world-class smart platforms that leveraged the power of IoT, while also becoming the first district in the region to utilise 5G technology.

In addition to its existing partnership with Careem Bike and the RTA’s Scooter initiative, as well as its 6.3MW solar parking shade project, which is in the process of being rolled out across 17 locations saving 7,612 MWh annually, JLT had truly reached a point of capacity, which is what made its next announcement particularly interesting.

‘Uptown’ ambitions

Unveiled in 2015, Uptown Dubai District broke ground in 2017, with a separate ground-breaking taking place to mark the construction of Uptown Tower in 2019, the first of the super tall mixed-use towers in Uptown District. Billed as the first five-star hospitality product and first branded residential product created in collaboration with Accor, ASGG, WATG and BESIX, Uptown is the culmination of all the lessons learned from JLT with the added luxury of contemporary technology.

Uptown Tower has integrated sustainability to a new level, for example by setting a new world record for the largest solar plant on a construction site in the world, thereby reducing the project’s carbon footprint by over 50 per cent and its operational costs down by 20 per cent. Supported by Enerwhere, a DMCC company, Uptown Tower is also being supplied with environmentally friendly district cooling services, courtesy of Empower, a company which despite its onshore incorporation status has chosen to take office space in Uptown Tower in order to remain close to DMCC and its ongoing developments.

Highest rental yields

With such significant developments occurring in and around JLT, it was no wonder that those who’d decided to invest were sitting pretty. In fact, Sotheby’s Luxhabitat in February 2020 recognized JLT as the number one luxury residential community with the highest rental returns in Dubai at 7.26 per cent.

While it might have been difficult to argue a case for JLT’s location during the masterplanning phase, today it covers three kilometres of Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s main artery from east to west, and is connected to two highway exchanges, two metro stations and thirteen bus stops.

It is also within five minutes from the beach, ten minutes from the Ibn Battuta Mall and Palm Jumeirah, and just twenty minutes from Expo 2020, Dubai Parks, Dubai Mall, Dubai Opera, DXB Airport and an hour from Abu Dhabi.

As a consequence of all these efforts, DMCC has secured the Global Free Zone of the Year by Financial Times’ fDi Magazine for seven consecutive years, while positioning itself as a world leader in the trade of rough diamonds, a major hub for physical gold, in part thanks to its resident refineries, and the first free zone in the UAE to join the UN Global Compact.

Trade enabler

As an additional benefit, its built environment, and mantra of ‘Made for Trade’ has helped it to attract a who’s who of Global and Fortune 500 companies including PepsiCo, Glencore, Total, America Express, Petronas, Tata, Honeywell, Danone, Colgate Palmolive General Mills and Caterpillar to name a few.

Certainly, by fostering a dynamic, entrepreneurial spirit, accompanied by a pro-business environment with world-class infrastructure, DMCC has not only continued to grow, but at record levels with the first-half of 2022 yielding a record-breaking period of registration with 1,469 new companies, pushing the total to over 21,000 registered businesses.

While I cannot dispute the value of location when it comes to property, I am certain that JLT’s success as a community is thanks to an unwavering focus on its long-term vision and to the people who’ve chosen to become a part of it.

Much more than location, it is truly a cosmopolitan community that continues to develop in line with the demands and requirements of its residents and commuters, while remaining true to its mandate of attracting, enabling, and promoting trade. Today, that trade is valued at more than half a trillion dollars per year – a figure even Harold Samuel would have to agree, is a solid return on investment.