Abdulla Al Saleh
From left: Marwan Al Hel (moderator), Abdulla Al Saleh, Undersecretary at Ministry of Economy, Abdullah Mohammad Al Basti, Secretary-General of Dubai Executive Council, and Maj Gen Mohammad Al Merri, Director General Department of Naturalisation and Residency, during a panel discussion at the Dubai Investment Week on Monday. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai’s economy is fully geared to attract global investment flows that support sustainability and greater productivity, said key Dubai and federal government officials at the fifth Dubai Investment Week (DIW).

DIW that runs from September 29 to October 3 offers participants an opportunity to learn about Dubai’s strategic advantages as a city of the future.

Speaking at the DIW forum on Monday, Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of Dubai Economy said Dubai as an investment destination has earned the confidence of international investors, despite the challenges posed by global economic cycles.

“Dubai has maintained a leading position among top global cities in FDI attraction over the past five years, which reflects what Dubai offers in terms of diverse investment opportunities in key economic sectors,” said Al Qamzi.

Latest data from Dubai Investment Development Agency (DUBAI FDI), an agency of Dubai Economy based on the Financial Times’ FDI Markets showed that during the first 6 months of 2018 Dubai attracted FDI projects worth a record Dh46.6 billion, a growth of 135 per cent compared to the same period last year.

During the first half of 2019, Dubai has continued to progress in global rankings of the most attractive cities for FDI, ranking third in the world in attracting FDI, in terms of both capital flows and the number of greenfield projects.

“Dubai’s rise in global FDI rankings confirms the growing confidence of the global investment community in Dubai’s investment environment. Dubai’s FDI readiness and attractiveness is expected to make the city a preferred location for global business and start-ups,” said Al Qamzi.

The resilient economy of the City is expected to grow 2.1 per cent this year and 3.8 per cent next year according projections by independent agencies. Al Qamzi said the sustained growth of FDI flows into Dubai comes at a time when there have been many positive developments in the UAE’s investment environment.

“Dubai is classified as a Major City in international rankings for top FDI locations, ranking third in overall rankings and second in economic potential in the latest “Global Cities of the Future 2018-2019”, report by the Financial Times’ FDI’ Benchmark study, thanks to Dubai’s strategic initiatives across key economic sectors, which offer current and future opportunities for the investor community,” said Al Qamzi.

Investor readiness

The continued growth in FDI into Dubai is seen as a sign of sustained investor readiness of Dubai said Fahad Al Gergawi, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai FDI.

FDI projects are characterised by directing capital, technology and talent to productive and operational capacity, which reflects Dubai’s investor readiness and promising investment opportunities. “Dubai supports global business and start-up growth and expansion, making it a gateway to regional and global markets, and a global hub for talent, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Al Gergawi.

Dubai has attracted 257 FDI projects in the first half of 2019. 61 per cent of total projects were greenfield, followed by 27 per cent new forms of investments (NFIs), 6 per cent reinvestment, 5 per cent mergers and acquisitions (M&As), and 1 per cent for new joint ventures, with Strategic FDI projects accounting for 62 per cent of total FDI capital flows.

Officials reiterated that all government policies are directed towards attracting private sector investments and public private partnerships. “Private sector is a vital player in Dubai’s economy. The recent changes in laws facilitating 100 per cent ownership of businesses, new visa rules supporting investments are targeted at more private participation in the economy,” said Abdulla Mohammad Al Basti, Secretary General of Dubai Executive Council.

Abdulla Al Saleh, Under Secretary of the Ministry of Economy said, at the Federal level, the UAE government is fully committed to economic diversification and enhanced role of private sector in the economy. “The UAE believes in an open and free market economy. We need private sector and cross border participation in achieving this goal,” he said.

Dubai has the potential to lead Industry 4.0

Dubai has the potential to lead the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0, according to Henrik von Scheel, the originator of the Industry 4.0.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about the fusion of the physical, digital and virtual worlds, and is set against a backdrop of 17 colliding trends,” said Scheel. “Combined, this represents the biggest structural change in the past 250 years.”

According to the thought leader, there is absolutely nothing to fear from these technology changes because people will always be at the centre of technology.

“The more resistant we are to change, the harder it will be for us to adapt. Normally businesses have three to five years to react to changes in their industry, but when you have so many simultaneous changes occurring, it becomes disruptive, and your ability to react becomes more difficult. This is called the ‘change gap’. If you are fighting on too many fronts, then you lose the fight.” said Scheel.

Scheel who is a consultant to a number of Western governments said, for a number of governments and organisations around the world, the biggest challenge is to embrace change and thankfully, for the UAE the leadership is fully ready for change.

“The changes that underpin Industry 4.0 require executives to ask themselves how they should change their competitive model. In Dubai the leadership is more than willing to change their competitive model that facilitates Industry 4.0. The Arab region was the source of innovation for Europe about 600 years ago. Now, it has the opportunity to emerge as a leader of innovation once again,” said Scheel.