In an exclusive interview with 'India Global Business,' Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry shares his views and opinions on the various sectors of synergy that are propelling bilateral ties between India and the UAE.
The energy that drives ties between India and the UAE has never been stronger. What is your personal impression on how bilateral ties and business relations stand between the two countries at the moment What does the future hold
I would say there is tremendous potential for startups and companies to build partnerships with their UAE counterparts.
Our relations with India go back a long way and are built on a very strong foundation of social, economic and cultural ties. UAE-India economic ties have strengthened considerably in recent years thanks to the political will articulated by both governments and their sustained efforts to work together for the mutual benefit of our people. The UAE-India comprehensive strategic partnership introduced a few years ago has boosted economic cooperation and aligned the ambitions of both countries. Currently, India is Dubai's second-largest trading partner and bilateral non-oil trade reached $36.7 billion in 2019, marking a 17 per cent increase compared to 2018.
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A total of 2,208 Indian companies joined Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry as new members in the first six months of 2019, marking an 18 percent increase compared to the same period last year. What is the current number despite the pandemic having slowed business down
The number of Indian companies registered with Dubai Chamber has increased steadily over the last decades in line with expanding UAE-India business ties and currently stands at over 38,000 today, and these companies account for nearly a quarter of our total membership. Following the opening of Dubai Chamber's representative office in Mumbai two years ago, we saw a sharp uptick in the number of Indian companies looking to expand their presence into Dubai and the UAE. Our team on the ground is building important relationships with public and private sector stakeholders in India, identifying attractive business opportunities and attracting high-potential Indian companies and startups to the Dubai market.
What aggressive steps is the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and industry currently taking to entice investors from India into the UAE and Dubai?
Prior to Covid-19, Dubai Chamber would regularly host trade missions, roadshows, business seminars and networking events, and today we have taken all of these events and experiences online. Our representative office in India is working closely with key stakeholders in the country to facilitate new partnerships between business communities in India and the UAE that can advance the digital economy and create mutual benefits. In September 2020, we hosted the Dubai Tech Tour, the first online trade mission of its kind that will introduce Indian fintech startups to the Dubai market with the aim of expanding bilateral business ties. We are very optimistic about the prospects of this mission.
What can India learn from Dubai in terms of its response to Covid-19?
The UAE's government has been swift and proactive in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as it has spared no effort in providing the support and resources needed to ensure business continuity. Several measures were introduced to help companies deal with the impact, including the UAE Central Bank's AED 100 billion comprehensive Economic Support Scheme for retail and corporate customers affected by Covid-19 and economic stimulus packages rolled out by governments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, private sector stakeholders have stepped up in a major way to support companies during these unprecedented times. Landlords across the UAE have been quick to waive and defer rent payments, while banks have done the same loan repayments and fees. In addition, the adoption of new health and safety measures have enabled businesses to re-open and adjust to the new normal. These efforts have mitigated the impact on various sectors of the economy and made the UAE more resilient in the face of global challenges Thanks to these proactive efforts, the UAE finds itself today in a strong position as it restarts its business meetings and events industry only months after reopening borders to international visitors. Going forward, the UAE will continue to leverage its strengths and global partnerships to address new challenges as they arise and boost economic competitiveness and digital preparedness in the post-Covid era.
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Startups, blockchain technology, AI and smart city solutions - the UAE is aggressively establishing ties with India in this ecosystem - could you outline the purpose behind this as it dovetails into Dubai's long term strategic plans
Given the valuable expertise that India offers in the areas of smart city solutions, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, I would say there is tremendous potential for startups and companies to build partnerships with their UAE counterparts. In particular, Dubai has become a test bed for cutting-edge technologies and solutions from entrepreneurs and innovative businesses from around the world. Beyond the strong trade and cultural ties that the UAE and India share, the countries have shown their commitment to becoming partners in innovation as they advance their digital economies and prepare for post-Covid recovery. For its part, Dubai Chamber is creating new channels for cooperating and exchange between the UAE and Indian business communities.
The UAE’s e-commerce market is set to exceed a value of $27 billion this year.
A great example of these efforts is the India-UAE Food Dialogue, a recent event Dubai Chamber's Mumbai office organised in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on the sidelines of India International Food & Agri Week. The event shed light on new prospects for increasing cooperation between the UAE and India on food security as well as the potential impact of the UAE-India Food Corridor on bilateral trade and investment in the future.
Please share a few insights with us in the fields of AI; food security and healthcare as crucial sectors as Dubai and the UAE pursues heavy engagement in these sectors?
E-commerce, fintech and healthtech are three key areas where SMEs in Dubai have been very active this year.
The UAE is at the forefront of the region's digital shift. According to the World Economic Forum's projections, the UAE's e-commerce market is set to exceed a value of $27 billion this year, with similar growth expected across the Middle East and North Africa. Surge in e-commerce activity is fueling adoption of cutting-edge technologies such as algorithmic routing, real-time visibility driven by IoT (internet of things), and data exchange among online retailers and logistics companies. AI, cloud and blockchain technologies are being used to improve cybersecurity, detect fraud, identify threats, and ensure that people's personal information remains secure.
SMEs are playing a major role in supporting the UAE's transition to a post-Covid digitally-digitally-driven economy. E-commerce, fintech and healthtech are three key areas where SMEs in Dubai have been very active this year - and this is important as such sectors are supporting the Emirate's transition to a global smart city and innovation hub. Expo 2020 Dubai, set to kick off in October 2021, will be a crucial platform for the UAE, India and other countries to showcase their innovations and economic potential to the world and work towards cross-border partnerships that solve global challenges and create sustainable growth.