Dubai became the biggest transit city for gold in the world last year with around 40 per cent of the global physical gold trade passing through the city at 2,250 tonnes, according to the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre  Ahmed bin Sulayem speaking at the opening of the annual Dubai Precious Metals Conference  today.
‘The Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum set us a target of 50 per cent when the DMCC started in 2002 and we are still a little short,’ he said. ‘Gold worth a total of $75 billion was moved through Dubai in 2013.’
The theme of the conference this year is African engagement. Mr. Bin Sulayem commented that out of the 8,300 companies employing 89,000 staff in the DMCC there are 633 from Africa. Both gold and diamonds from Africa are processed in Dubai.
The key address this afternoon came from gold industry veteran John Hathaway from Toqueville Asset Management in New York who has $2 billion under his management. He expressed ‘confidence in the gold price resuming its upward path because of the ‘architecture of the gold sector and monetary policies around the world.’
However, he warned of third party risk even in allocated gold accounts where the bank’s assets were likely to be seized, and suggested non-banking institutions were better places to hold gold.
In his view the ‘architecture of the gold sector’ is liable to breakdown at some point due to ‘complex and arcane leasing processes’ and the ‘leverage of paper against physical gold’.
That said he would not give a gold price forecast, let alone try to time one. Maybe he is just tired of being wrong as are many gold commentators. The last bull throwing in the towel is usually a very positive indicator. 
Next up was the president of the American Business Council of Dubai & the Northern Emirates, Ramsey B. Jurdi with a stern lesson of how US sanctions on Iran were also designed to impact local businesses if they traded in precious metals with Iranians. Basically they would have the same sanctions imposed on them, preventing US dollar transfers, for example and business with US entities.
Maybe the atmosphere of the DPMC was a little subdued this year after the gold price falls of 2013  but the audience was up from 350 to over 500, a better reflection perhaps of the strength of the bullion trade in Dubai.