ASAE Study Mission 2009 - Dubai, UAE

4 05 2009


Dubai is a land rich in Arabic culture and tradition with modern luxury.  Dubai is often regarded as the first mover in the region.  However, it is believed that far more significant growth is to come when the three powers in the region (Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran) will stabilize and capitalize on their resources, capital and human resources.  That is when the true boom will happen in the GCC region.

Dubai Convention Bureau

Once a rural fishing and a pearl-diving village Dubai has become the self-proclaimed gateway to the Middle East where east meets west.  Population is 1.4 million of which 85% are expats and the rest are Emirati.

There are a total of seven Emirates in UAE (which was founded in 1971) where Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most famous.  Dubai is the center of commerce.

Dubai’s hotel market of 353 hotels offers a much more diverse array of price points despite its reputation of being an expensive destination with high hotel prices.

Key influences of the Gulf Culture are its Islamic faith, tribal past, and modernization programs.   Loyalty, hospitality and family are cornerstones of Arab values. It is not a confrontational culture especially when dealing with negative news, habits, or rejections. Arabs tend not to disagree right away.

Arabs business people are often well educated and know more about the rest of the world than the rest knows about them. And just as in China and Singapore, it’s all about building relationships.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce

Membership of all businesses on the mainland (outside free-zones) is mandatory.  The Chamber’s mission is to represent support and protect the Dubai business community.

Dubai seeks to capture international expertise and have them established in Dubai (e.g. healthcare, education, …) in order to attract the best people from around the world to locate in Dubai.

Dubai has a rich array of over 20+ free zones totaling over 100,000 Dubai-based businesses segmented by categories.  The city is organized into cluster systems of business.   Today, 95% of income comes from outside the oil industry and its business culture supports woman in business.

UAE Society of Engineers

One of the most active non-profit organizations in UAE is the Society of Engineers established in 1979.  Its mission is to build an architectural, industrial and commercial renaissance in UAE.  With over 25,000 members, specialization includes:  64% civil, 21% architect, and 5% electrical.  Most of consultancy offices are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Jebel Ali Free Zone 

Yesterday we flew over the site and today we get to visit the large grounds and get a better understanding of how the JAFZA free zone works.
JAFZA JAFZA was established in 1977 with a vision to build the biggest port in the world. Over 6,000 companies are registered (more than 125 from the Fortune 500). Also includes a regional representation of companies:  Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas.  Currently focusing on companies from the food, chemicals and logistic sector.

The incentives to locate yourself in the free-zone:  100% foreign ownership (in Dubai city you need to partner with a local company), exemption from corporate and income taxes for 50 years, duty free import of goods, no foreign currency or labour restrictions, and full repatriation of profits and capital.

JAFZA With 180,000 employees in 2008 upon completion, JAFZA will be the largest custom bounded multi-logistical model in the world.  By 2015, it will feature a new international airport, the port and the Jebel Ali Free Zone all conveniently linked to facilitate the shipment of products to global markets.

Dubai Media City

As we’ve learned till now, Dubai is all about clusters and communities. Today, it’s Media City the location of choice for knowledge based industries of the 21st Century.   There are nine sub-communities including:

  • Over 1200 companies from all over the world are located in Internet City
  • 1400 companies and 170 TV channels in Media City
  • Over 450 HR providers and training centers in Knowledge Village
  • International Media Production Zone
  • Dubai Outsource Zone
  • Dubai Studio City
  • Dubiotech
  • Dubai International Academic City:  over 20 universities
  • Enpark (energy and environment):  is a model sustainable community

Media City is considered a free-zone (same as JAFZA).  Associations can be present in the free-zone under the sector that they fall under (e.g. publishing in Media City, HR associations in Knowledge Village, etc.).

Final stop Abu Dhabi.



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