OPPORTUNITY ABOUND

Dubai 2018 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jose Diego Manzanera, CEO of Gulf Business Consulting, on its focus on technology and innovation, role as a bridge between the government and foreign companies, and opportunities in Dubai.

 Jose Diego Manzanera
BIOGRAPHY
Jose Diego Manzanera is the Founder and CEO of Gulf Business Consulting and a private investor in the UAE. He has over 15 years of experience in the Middle East, advising and developing sales and marketing strategies for private companies and government organizations from Europe, North America, and Latin America. He has published numerous articles and given courses on how to do business in the MENA region. He is an accredited mentor of the Spanish Mentoring Association for Entrepreneurs and an advisor for several business associations from Europe.

What is the focus of Gulf Business Consulting Group?

In the last several years, we have been focused on any technology that can improve people's lives in different sectors such as education, healthcare, retail, hospital, and tourism. In the last two years, we were investing in companies in those sectors and helping them operate and invest in the UAE market. For example, one of our companies is collaborating in partnership with Emirates NBD Bank to create the digital branch of the future. We believe in digitalization and the government is pushing to convert all the sectors and industries from analog to digital, which is what we are working on and are a part of.

How closely do you work with the government on its innovation agenda?

We work with government institutions, especially with the Dubai Chamber, Dubai FDI, and Dubai Future Accelerators. We work with them to bring in foreign companies from different backgrounds with disruptive technologies that want to be part of the digital revolution that is taking place in the UAE currently. They are setting the pace and opening branches and offices in the UAE to be close to the government and the developments in this technological and digital revolution. The Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity are crucial. We are in a strategic part of the world, and cybersecurity is therefore crucial. This is something that we are pushing for and helping investors to work on.

How does your business model integrate international companies that want to enter the market with local companies and the government?

We represent certain chambers of commerce and trade promotion offices. 60% of our work is with government entities from 12 countries mainly from Europe and Latin America. The other 40% involves working with companies from those countries that want to come to the UAE to do business. We work as a bridge and provide services such as market research, feasibility studies, and assistance with business strategy based on our experiences in the last 12 years. We help them understand the country's culture, the business culture, and the business etiquette in this part of the world.

How can companies benefit from ease of doing business here?

Dubai is the city of the future, with political stability, a legal framework, and security. Logistically, there is Jebel Ali Port and Emirates Airlines, with which one can connect to the majority of the world in less than seven or eight hours. Logistically, legally, financially, politically, and geographically, everything points to Dubai. The government supports and funds many projects, which means opportunities. The UAE backs talented people and innovative companies that want to bring disruptive technologies. The Dubai government is especially supportive of SMEs. Companies that do not have the financial muscle but still have amazing ideas can receive government support as a result of leaderhip in the UAE. The millennials who bring new technologies and fresh ideas need guidance, courage, support, and financing. The only disadvantage is that operational costs here are expensive. The government needs to facilitate that for all companies, give them financial tools, and open credit for them to make a smooth landing in the UAE market.

Will you expand your operations in Dubai and the GCC?

Our plan is to continue to grow and open more offices in the GCC; however, due to the political situation, we have put our plans on hold. Though, the future here is promising. We see a great deal of interest from foreign companies because of the vision of the local government. Dubai is ahead of many other countries, and all those companies that are passionate about technology and innovation in other countries want to come here. They are potential clients for us, and we believe the next three years in particular will be interesting.