Dubai: Capturing the Imagination of the Gulf
"At the root of all creation is imagination because before you achieve, you must first conceive."
-- Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Inspired by the visions of Sheikh Rashid and later those of his son Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai has emerged as not only the chief port and commercial epicentre of the UAE, but also as "the Heart of Mid-East Business." Offering all the benefits of an affluent western metropolis – including an adequate water supply, rich cultural activities, word-class banks, superb roads, modern hospitals, advanced communications networks, first-class infrastructure facilities, a deep water port, a cosmopolitan lifestyle, liberal business and social regimes and an abundance of five-star hotels – this ambitious emirate’s merits are increased by boasting virtually no air pollution, traffic, poverty, or crime.
It is not difficult to realize that this "Venice of the Gulf," has not only geared toward helping people and business succeed, as most recently evidenced in "the City that Cares" Campaign, but has also itself become a quintessential success story. This illustrious accomplishment is due in large part to the role of the government and its attitude to the private sector and business community.
Although the UAE’s economy is best known for its oil and gas production, Dubai’s government visions have excited its economy into one of diversity. This year-round "sun city" boasts fine-sand beaches, and is known as both "shoppers’ paradise" (as new malls and retail outlets appear to open on a weekly basis), and as the "Sports Capital of the Middle East" (hosting a plethora of top-level sporting competitions and featuring world-class power-boating facilities, some of the richest tennis tournaments in the world, an active local football scene, and some of the best golf courses in the world).
Growing from a strategic trading port with (fishing and pearling) access to lucrative east and west markets into an ultra-modern megalopolis, Dubai has transformed visions into realities. World class exhibition facilities, namely the 39-story Dubai World Trade Centre that promotes international business relations and trade, are almost constantly in use, playing host to the largest jewelry, shopping, travel and trade shows and conferences in the world. Thousands of international companies are ‘Deciding on Dubai,’ and are flocking like bees to a honey-pot to conduct business, further evidencing a thriving city. New skyscrapers and residential buildings continue to fill the landscape. The graceful minarets of 132 glamorous mosques dot the skyline, often squeezed between high-rise office blocks.
Dubai’s record of achievements is adorned with an endless list of awards to its credit, including "Safest Tourist Destination", "World’s Top Conference Venue (DWTC)," and Emirates Airline was named the world’s best for a third consecutive year. Dubai’s airport, the main hub airport in the Middle East, epitomizes the modern, commercial, hustling Dubai, ranking as one of the world’s busiest airports. Dubai’s burgeoning tourist industry promotes the Emirate to the entire world. Nearly 3 million visitors arrived in Dubai during 1999, and the tourism sector is one of many flowering industries being developed to diversify from an oil (which accounts for 30% of GDP) and re-export based economy. Plans are underway to create a type of "Disneyworld" theme park in the emirate. Dubai is still ambitious as ever.
Mixing both pride in its Arabian heritage with an ultra-modern approach, the "City of Gold" is an extremely accessible market - served by more than 170 shipping lines and 86 airlines, and an equally open market: no exchange controls, quotas or trade barriers. The Government has powered an open, diverse, and exciting economy, and economic indicators encapsulate both success and promise. Dubai has continued to procure promising economic growth, and relishes the confidence of the international business community. These accomplishments have been realized, due in large part to the excellent infrastructure and tax incentives granted by the Dubai Government to the various business sectors. The Dubai Chamber of Commerce has enacted measures to improve the living standards of Dubai’s residents; in this light, the top-notch Dubai Polytechnic was established to graduate and educate future business, science and computer sector leaders. Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone is now home to almost 2,000 companies, offering world-class incentives.
Dubai offers incoming commerce pro-business policies and all the advantages of a highly developed economy. Overseas companies setting up in Dubai can secure cost advantages not generally available in other parts of the world, namely: no corporate taxes, no income taxes, no foreign exchange controls and no trade barriers. Dubai’s infrastructure and services match the highest international standards, facilitating efficiency, quality and service. Sheikh Mohammed’s innovative conception in late 1999 to create the billion dollar "Dubai Internet City" – the world’s first free trade zone for e-business, has sparked a boom in local and regional e-commerce and IT, and is stirring much excitement in research as well. An Internet University and research centre is also planned near the free trade zone. Microsoft GEM (Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean) has already announced plans to move its regional offices to Dubai Internet City, where it will conduct key Arab software-development stages. Other international IT and software giants are sure to follow in Microsoft’s footsteps.
Under the guidance of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai has determined where it wishes to go, has achieved its goals, and continues to push forward. Dubai has moved with, and ahead of the times, and its keen entrepreneurial spirit and sophisticated business infrastructure have set the emirate apart from the rest. (albawaba.com London office)