SMARTIS AS SMART DOES

Dubai 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on expanding UAE firms' global footprint, developing capabilities in emerging sectors, and becoming one of the world's smartest cities.

Hamad Buamim
BIOGRAPHY
At his current position since 2006, Hamad Buamim is President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and deputy chair of the World Chambers Federation—ICC in Paris. He is also a board member of the UAE Central Bank, Dubai World, and the Dubai International Financial Center and chairperson of National General Insurance and Hawkamah, the Institute for Corporate Governance. Previously chairperson of Emirates Financial Services and Emirates NBD Capital, he holds an MBA with honors in finance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City and a BS magna cum laude in electrical engineering from USC.

How has Dubai Chamber strengthened its international presence over the past year?

As part of our strategy of exploring promising markets around the world and providing our members with access to new growth opportunities abroad, Dubai Chamber has scaled up its international presence by opening representative offices in various emerging markets across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and CIS. Over the last year, we opened representative offices in Brazil, Panama, Argentina, and India that have complemented our global network and greatly supported our efforts to strengthen our relationships with key stakeholders in these markets. In addition, the chamber organizes several high-level events and trade missions throughout the year that support its strategy to promote Dubai as a preferred investment destination. Many of these events are hosted as part of the chamber's successful Global Business Forum series, which focuses on strengthening Dubai's economic cooperation with emerging markets. All these efforts support the objectives of Dubai Plan 2021 as well as Dubai's economic diversification plans.

What are the key sectors where UAE businesses can provide their expertise abroad?

UAE companies have vast expertise and capabilities in logistics, aviation, tourism, retail, and hospitality, in addition to a strong appetite for investment and expanding their global footprint. In fact, many of the UAE's leading companies have already established their presence in key markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and we expect this trend to gain momentum as more businesses look abroad for new growth opportunities. At the same time, the UAE's business community has been quick to adapt to new trends and develop capabilities in emerging sectors and fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, 3D printing, and smart city solutions in line with the objectives of the Dubai Plan 2021.

How does Dubai Chamber encourage cooperation between the public and private sectors to enhance competitiveness and ease barriers to trade?

As a bridge between business and government, Dubai Chamber plays a key role in facilitating fruitful cooperation and partnerships between Dubai's public and private sectors. These efforts have helped accelerate Dubai's economic growth and development over the years and position the Emirate as a leading example of how great things can be accomplished if various segments of society align their efforts and work together toward a common vision.

The chamber recently announced initiatives to support Dubai's new economic stimulus plans. What do these entail, and how will they strengthen Dubai's position as a global business hub?

Under the new initiatives, the chamber is coordinating with other government entities to review services and fees with the aim of reducing the cost of doing business in the Emirate, while also working with a newly formed advisory board to boost the contribution of global companies in shaping the regulatory landscape. The council, represented by selected multinational corporations and Fortune 500 companies, represents business interests, strengthens investor confidence, and plays a key role in developing the local economy. I am confident that these unique initiatives will support the growth of Dubai's economy, address challenges facing businesses in the Emirate, and significantly boost investor confidence in the market.

How do you assess the potential for Dubai to become a leading global fintech hub?

Dubai is well on its way to becoming one of the world's smartest cities, and it is investing a great deal in new technologies and innovative solutions. The adoption of blockchain technology across government entities is a key focus of the Dubai Smart City vision, and it signals a shift away from traditional administration and toward the digitalization of services. Public and private players have been quick to adopt measures to support the growth of the fintech sector in Dubai, and the region's first fintech accelerator was launched in the Emirate, which will provide an opportunity for firms operating in this space to set up and conduct business in the Emirate. Dubai is eyeing USD1 billion in fintech investments by 2022.