HAPPY GO LUCKY

Dubai 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of the Department of Economic Development (DED), on transforming Dubai into a smart economy, creating the happiest city in the world, and securing a knowledge-based economy for the future.

HE Sami Al Qamzi
BIOGRAPHY
HE Sami Al Qamzi was appointed Director General of the Department of Economic Development in September 2008. Before this, he held the position of Director General of the Department of Finance where he worked directly with the Ruler’s Court and Executive Council of Dubai to develop strategies for the Department of Finance. He began his professional career with the Central Military Command of the UAE in 1986 in an administrative financial role. He holds a bachelor's in Economics and Accounting, and is extensively involved in business and industry through his board affiliations.

How will the implementation of the bankruptcy law attract new business to the Emirate?

The new law will induce a more efficient allocation of resources by facilitating the restructuring of companies and supporting troubled businesses, and thus ease the burden of asset erosion in both the corporate and financial sectors. This will lead to a reduction in the risks and cost of doing business in the UAE and give a fillip to investment both domestic and foreign. The new law is especially important to the small and medium enterprises since it will help reduce risks and ease credit conditions that have so far limited SME survival rates.

What has been the private sector response to the Business Dashboard and Saad platform?

The Business Dashboard and Saad are two of DED's multiple initiatives designed to accelerate the transition of Dubai into a smart economy. We have also introduced a Hassle-Free initiative, which has streamlined and automated business-registration and licensing procedures, making them more efficient and less time consuming. The Business Dashboard complemented the successful migration of business registration and licensing services in Dubai to a fluid eServices platform through which investors can seamlessly engage with DED. Almost 99% of the business registration and licensing services are now available online in Dubai through the DED website and smart applications. Meanwhile, investors and entrepreneurs can submit their questions to Saad on the DED website in audio format or in writing and receive relevant and up-to-date information on business licensesprocedures and fees as well as step-by-step instructions on setting up a business.

How will the UAE become one of the most innovative countries in the world?

The UAE has utilized various elements to drive innovation in the private and public sectors, including an enabling regulatory environment as well as a strong information and communication infrastructure, support for R&D and human capital development, and entrepreneurial capabilities and linkages to tap into global knowledge and financing arrangements. Both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai 2021 visions provide the vehicle for becoming a knowledge-based economy. For example, Dubai has embarked on an ambitious smart city initiative focused on harnessing the power of information technology in the provision of public and private services. A key step has already been undertaken as an increasing number of transactions and procedures and a comprehensive information system have been made accessible online. The greater the availability of these services, the more the reductions in the cost of doing business in Dubai will be realized.

Dubai Smart Office has shown the link between big data analysis and happiness. How can happiness stimulate investment?

Creating the happiest city is a complex challenge. We require state-of-the-art infrastructure, unique opportunities, dynamic customer engagement, and efficient service delivery, to name a few. When happiness becomes the central theme of policies, programs, and services of government bodies, the focus moves toward attracting investment and providing the best experiences for individuals, investors, and enterprises. The objective is a transformation, which requires significant investment but also opens avenues for sustained investment in excellence in the years to come.

What made 2016 an attractive year for new licenses despite slower growth?

What we witnessed in 2016 was the continuation of a long-term upward trend in issuing licenses. A number of factors are driving this, including the stability and predictability of the macroeconomic environment and the continuous drive to diversify the economy away from oil toward a knowledge-based economy underscored by innovation. In addition to the projects and initiatives contained in the Dubai 2021 Plan, Expo 2020 is attracting increasing levels of interest from the business community, especially in the context of the newly introduced PPP law and bankruptcy law.