INCREASING MOMENTUM

Dubai 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO of Dubai FDI, on sustainable growth, Latin American markets, and being at the heart of international trade.

Fahad Al Gergawi
BIOGRAPHY
Fahad Al Gergawi has been the CEO of Dubai FDI since 2008. Prior to joining Dubai FDI, Al Gergawi held senior posts with Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, and Dubai Holding’s Dubai Properties Group, where he led trade, industrial, and business development activities successfully. Al Gergawi holds a bachelor’s degree from the United Arab Emirates University. He is an inaugural graduate of the elite Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum program for Young Business Leaders and a member of young Arab Leaders Foundation UAE chapter.

What are your views on cross-sector innovation, and what investment opportunities does it present?

Last year was the year of innovation in the UAE and it was quite a celebration. But, beyond that, the Dubai Investment Forum informed investors about UAE's long-term goals and weeks later an AED300 billion UAE Science Technology & Innovation Higher Policy was announced to realize these goals and increase innovation's contribution to total GDP. We believe that a strong enabler for innovation to happen is the investment that comes with it. Certain innovations would not be where they are today without a strong financial backing. Good ideas that look at sustainability are particularly important right now and the government is looking at innovation that fits within the green economy strategy to support the growth and sustainability of all economic sectors.

How can the financial services industry help Dubai's economy move beyond oil?

A great deal of business planning has to be done with an understanding of where the destination is within economic development. Where economic development plans are really explained, informed, and well designed, then the private sector will take advantage of that in proceeding with its expansion plans. This is what is unique about Dubai and the UAE; the federal and local governments talk in the same tones and play the same tune, and this is music to the ears of investors. The authorities are informing private-sector investors what their plans are and adding new sectors to their plans, which brings more diversification to the table. This effort increases private sector alignment with the government vision, strategies, and plans and increases investors' positive perspective and interest in being part of the government development agenda.

How can the UAE's bilateral engagement with international markets be enhanced?

Connecting with different destinations around the world is a strong focus for the UAE and Dubai. This is necessary to achieve better businesses, better trade, and of course more bilateral trade with more destinations. For example, there is a delegation, including from the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, going to Colombia in 2016, and there are other missions going to Panama, Mexico, and Cuba. There are others going to Brazil and Argentina a few months later, and probably Colombia again as well. Latin America is increasingly interesting in terms of both its large and small economies. The momentum is happening, and we have more connections to Latin America than ever before. Furthermore, some Western European markets that faded for a while are also reviving, including Germany, France, the UK, and Switzerland. The strong connection is continuing between Dubai and the UAE with Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

How can international markets can benefit from being in Dubai?

Dubai represents a strong platform for entering the large MENA region. It contains more than 2.4 billion consumers. Dubai is a global platform as a business enabler. Dubai allows businesses to benefit from the transit of goods moving through here to other regions and helps global trade. In downturns like 2016, we are seeing an economic cycle that will take a year or two to come back up, and the world needs a destination like Dubai to facilitate the import-export trade. Global trade helped in the last recession of 2008-09, and it will continue to be a strong enabler to help the world come out of what is currently happening. Dubai is at the heart of this. In 2016, we finished an expansion at Dubai International Airport, which means an 11% increase to 78 million passengers. It will continue to be the world's number-one international passenger airport. These are important elements to look at for the engagement of business and to allow them to cut costs even in hard times like these.