The DIFC has been running an aggressive overseas campaign to promote Dubai as the new global financial centre. But its biggest endorsement yet is the fact that Dubai is hosting the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of IMF and World Bank Group.

Hosting of the IMF-World Bank meeting is a recognition of the emergence of Dubai as a global financial hub and an expression of the appreciation by the world financial super bodies of the capabilities that Dubai has achieved.

The Novotel Hotel constructed as part of the Dubai International Convention Centre. ©Gulf News
It is also an invitation to the international community to come and see Dubai's and the UAE's accomplishments and the soundness of the policies pursued by the country's rulers, points out DIFC Chief Executive Officer Naser T Nabulsi.

Getting a feel

The week-long event, including an assorted programme of seminar and other networking engagements, will give a chance to the representatives of 134 member countries of the world bodies as well as captains of global business and industry to see for themselves what they have been hearing about through the dynamic campaigns of Dubai.

Naser Nabulsi's DIFC team is determined to make the most of the presence of the prestigious gathering in the city. While the main Dubai 2003 events are, of course, devoted to deal with issues prioritised by the world bodies, a series of networking events are expected to take place on the sidelines of the conference, mostly as social and private engagements. DIFC will figure in many of these.

From the DIFC point of view, the timing of the conference is just right. Although DIFC was announced quite a long time ago, the launch then was more of an idea and a concept. Now it has evolved into a business model and is now ready to take off.

The all-important federal decree, authorising legislations to govern the activities of entities registered with DIFC, has also come while the regulations are largely in place.

Similarly, the regional financial exchange, a key ingredient of the plan to make Dubai the regional financial centre, has also begun taking shape and in this process many of the ambiguities that seemed to hold back the initiative have been cleared. There is now clarity on what the exchange wants to achieve and how to go about its tasks.

The readiness for action is also more visible to the city residents, with banners and buntings being put up along the roads that lead to the World Trade Centre complex of Dubai International Convention Centre, the venue of the prestigious meetings, explaining what DIFC is all about.

This is in contrast to the promotions that so far have been broadly external. DIFC has been showing a commercial on leading international television channels, announcing the emergence of Dubai as the latest global financial centre.

The dramatic commercial has been produced by Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), the film production unit which made blockbuster movies such as Gladiator, Alien, Blade Runner and Black Hawk Down etc. The short film seeks to capture the excitement of the launch of a new regional financial centre, capable of standing up to London, New York and other established financial hubs.

The film uses stunning special effects and state-of-the art computer-generated imagery to show universally recognised icons of the great financial cities of the world converging on Dubai.

Taxi cabs from NewYork, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo are seen cruising through the heart of Dubai, represented by the DIFC Gate, signifying DIFC's ambition to stand alongside these centres as a world-class financial hub. It took RSA three months to produce the film.

The writer is a UAE-based journalist