Friday, April 15, 2011
Dubai – The Gateway to Global Business Opportunities…
Out of the vast expanse of the Arabian desert, the emirate of Dubai has created a city that ranks as the commercial and tourist heart of the Middle East. A small trading and fishing community only four decades ago, Dubai is now a modern city where glass and steel office blocks line broad concrete roads and championship grass golf courses attract the finest players in the world.
The ruling Maktoum family has invested the emirate’s wealth from oil in infrastructure – Dubai’s sophisticated telecommunications and transport facilities are unmatched in the region, one of the many reasons it serves as the storage and distribution hub of the Middle East.
The emirate’s historical trading tradition continues, and today Dubai acts as a regional gateway, re-exporting goods from around the world to the large markets of neighbors such as Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, as well as the countries of the Indian subcontinent and East Africa – an area with a combined population of around 1.4 billion.
Liberal commercial regulations and the government’s support to business have encouraged an increasing number of international firms to choose Dubai or its Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) and Dubai Airport Free Zone as the base for their regional headquarters and storage and distribution centres.
Alongside Dubai’s growth as a commercial centre and increasing awareness of the opportunities it presents, the exhibition business in the city has witnessed a boom in recent years.
The city has long been established as the premier regional hub, servicing the rest of the Arabian Peninsula and the Asian sub-continent beyond. In recent years, that role has already been surpassed and the emirate is now set to play an increasingly important role as the major business and financial link between East and West.
Dubai’s success has been largely attributed to its ability to adjust to changing circumstances. The optimistic view of financial experts is based on the strongly pro-business attitude of the government and the entrepreneurial skills of the largely expatriate population but also – and increasingly – on the emergence of neighboring countries as major new markets.
Dubai’s optimism is a very difficult “commodity” to market, but is obvious to any business visitor to the city, seeing the constantly high level of business activity, continual expansion of an already impressive commerce, residential and leisure infrastructure and the large number of construction projects invariably underway. And this buoyant attitude is a major factor in Dubai’s success in attracting many of the world’s leading companies to establish, or even re-locate, regional headquarters in the emirate.
Dubai’s free zones offer an ever-growing list of advantages that has led many MNCs from around the world to move to Dubai:
No taxation on profits or income
No foreign exchange controls or restrictions on capital movement
A stable, freely convertible currency
Strategic location, bridging time zones between Europe and the Far East
Efficient and well-developed support services, telecommunications and air links
High quality, reasonably-priced office accommodation
Excellent conference and exhibition facilities
A cosmopolitan lifestyle and tolerant, virtually crime-free environment
These factors are underpinned by the government’s “hands-off” policy in the commercial sector, actively encouraging entrepreneurs and investors. Dubai’s political and economic stability and remoteness from the recession in the West also play their part in explaining the widespread optimism to be found in the business community.
And the many sophisticated international companies moving in to the emirate can learn a lot from the more established merchant community which built Dubai’s trading reputation.
Although Dubai has emerged from the souks – the traditional Arabian markets – souk merchants still form the backbone of the city’s trade. Their expertise, combined with the sophistication gained through international exposure can help multinationals improve their own standards of marketing, to the benefit of themselves and Dubai.
Dubai also has several Free Zone Establishments (FZEs), the new entities further expand business opportunities for international companies seeking to operate in the region. They are expected to play an important role for many overseas corporations in their international tax planning strategy, sharing the tax exemption enjoyed by companies already established in the Zone, while having the freedom offered by 100% foreign ownership.
Another factor in Dubai’s success as a regional base is its proximity and excellent links with the massive business potential of the Indian sub-continent. But it is important to remember that it is a two-way traffic. All of this means there is a sound basis for Dubai’s confident approach to the continued consolidation of its role as a major international centre for business and commerce
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