Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem
“DP World isn’t what it used to be - we are logistics and trade enablers,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, DP World’s Chairman and CEO. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Global companies have realized that basing their whole manufacturing out of China is not sustainable, said Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World’s Chairman and CEO.

“The pandemic gave us a very interesting lesson - producing everything in China is not sustainable,” he said, during the Dubai International PPP (Public-Private Partnership) Conference. “China is closed and the supply chain disrupted.”

Companies have historically taken advantage of China’s supply chain efficiencies to keep costs low and margins high. For them, it’s economically unfeasible to take the components to US or Europe to assemble the final product.

Stock - PPP Conference Dubai
Image Credit: John Benny/Gulf News

Sulayem said COVID-19 had forced the Dubai ports operator to accelerate its digital initiatives. “When the pandemic came, we were faced with a problem - we were disrupted,” said Sulayem. “We had to adhere to the pandemic restrictions, so we started to accelerate many digital platforms that we didn’t really need urgently.”

Recognizing various inefficiencies in the supply chain, DP World has made several investments over the last few years to play a bigger role in the global movement of goods. “DP World isn’t what it used to be - we are logistics and trade enablers,” said Sulayem.

Dubai goes digital

Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director-General at Digital Dubai, said the private sector was playing a key role in digitizing UAE’s economy as much as government bodies. “Back then, the transformation was more about building and establishing the communication between the government entities, digitizing core processes and defining the system that the government would run on,” said Al Nasser.

“The focus was around the public and the government itself, and it was really important to introduce the private sector.”

The official said the department’s new mandate was to ensure the government is offering a “coherent” experience, becoming more efficient and also accelerating the digital skills needed to build future platforms. “We are going to use the digital world, the data that is available, statistics on all our systems to empower any decision that we’re taking in our city,” said Al Nasser.

“Cybersecurity is becoming necessary to make sure that our platforms, (and) our systems are resilient.”

Deals announced

On Sunday, Dubai’s Department of Finance announced a portfolio of projects worth Dh25 billion. The portfolio includes more than 30 significant ones in the infrastructure, public transportation and urban development sectors.

The public-private partnership (PPP) project portfolio spans several vital sectors. With the announcement, the total value of both existing and newly announced PPP projects in Dubai has exceeded Dh65 billion.

The announcement was made in the presence of Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, at the Dubai International PPP Conference. “The new portfolio of PPP projects seeks to further harness synergies between the two sectors to shape our future over the next 50-year phase,” said Sheikh Maktoum. “The new projects provide private sector players with exceptional opportunities and will create ideal conditions for private sector companies to contribute towards Dubai’s future.”