UAE's original economy still thrives: Pearl trade up 15%
While the pearl trade across the UAE has grown at an average of 15 per cent in the last four years, pearl business should receive better support from government, Mohammad Al Suwaidi, Operations Manager of RAK Pearls, told Gulf News.
“The opportunities for UAE pearl businesses in the international pearl market is quite high and will explore potential opportunities across the pearl industry value chain,” he said.
However, he said that to encourage the growth of this industry, there should be serious support from the government, and a body must be established to look after peal industry's development across the emirates.
In 2011, UAE’s re-exports of pearls amounted to about Dh68.19 million (USD $18.57 million) while key re-export markets for pearls were Hong Kong, Switzerland and the USA, according to latest figures from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Al Suwaidi said that the historic background of pearl trade across the UAE and the business climate should enable the emirates to invest in pearl business and lead the industry in the region.
Pearl has always been a source of power and wealth in the UAE before the discovery of oil.
It was the main source of living in the UAE decades ago before the collapse of the business due to the emergence of cultured Japanese pearls.
Emiratis used to spend three continuous months diving for pearl in the sea to earn their living for the whole year.
Moreover, 50 per cent of the natural pearl in the world came from the Gulf region before Japanese pearl began dominating the business.
RAK Pearls is the only company that has a pearl farm in the UAE and Middle East. It produces cultured pearls with a production capacity of 200,000 pearls per year.
Pearl farming combines science and traditional techniques to produce high quality cultured pearls through the technical support of its Japanese partners, Al Swaidi said.
“For eight years we could attract the interest of international jeweler designer and today we are a supplier to the international jewelry designer, Mouawad.”
Another contract is in the pipe line to supply another international company, while RAK Pearl is going to increase their production line to 500,000 in the coming three years, he added.
Demand for pearls has come from their unique qualities such as their color, luster and luminosity, and their use, mainly in jewelry.
Pearls have historically been an important precious gem traded worldwide.
While technology is very important to produce higher quality pearls, there is the need for a sustainable production of pearls, Al Suwaidi added.
Dubai’s exports and re-exports of pearls have increased about 15.10 per cent between 2008 to 2011.
Pearl has been identified recently by Dubai Exports among a number of product categories that can help boost the emirate’s exports and industrial sector.
“The local and international demand for pearl make it more feasible for local manufacture, which in turn help enhance export value,” said Saeed Al Awadi, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED)
According to Dubai Exports, the overall value of pearls and jewelry exported in 2011 exceeded Dh101 million.
The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre’s (DMCC) initiative, the World Pearl Forum holds of tender auctions through the Dubai Pearl Tender, to encourage the growth of the pearl industry.