MAHMOOD AL BASTAKI

Dubai 2020 | TRADE | INTERVIEW

DT World is tapping into convenience and transparency to fill the many gaps in the import-export business.

Mahmood Al Bastaki
BIOGRAPHY

Mahmood Al Bastaki has played a major role in the advancement of e-business in the Middle East region. An expert in e-governance solution, he served as CEO of Dubai Trade before taking up his current position as Chairman of the board for Dubai Trade and COO of DT World. Al Bastaki is also the former acting director of e-services of Dubai e-government and was appointed an advisor for the Dubai Expo 2020 bid team. He was a member of the board of directors of the International Chamber of Commerce-UAE and is chairman of the Customs and Trade Facilitation Commission. He is also a member of the UAE National Committee of World Trade Organization and was the president of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport – UAE of Trustees.

How is Dubai maintaining its position as the regional hub?
Being a trading hub for the cargo business is something that every country wants, and there is legitimate competition in the region in the shape of Oman and Abu Dhabi. However, Dubai has the advantage of being the first mover in the region. Jebel Ali handles more containers than India. Combining import and transshipment figures, Jebel Ali handles 15 million containers annually. This shows the magnitude of Dubai. A lot of neighboring countries are trying to mimic Dubai's concept; however, a hub is not created overnight. Being a hub requires a cohesive ecosystem. We have gone through the learning curve and have this competitive edge. As a result, more companies and regional heads of companies are coming to Dubai. We will continue to give more opportunities to these players to make it more difficult for any competitors to catch up. DP World's chairman wants Dubai to be 15-20 years ahead, so there is a group-wide focus on this. Technology is a major component of this. Dubai Trade was launched in 2003 as an online cargo clearance platform. Building on the success of Dubai Trade at Jebel Ali, we want to take this concept worldwide. Dubai Trade is still serving Dubai and Jebel Ali, but we created an international brand called DT World. We have done digital solutions for cargo clearance across the world, largely through DP World's global portfolio of ports, free zones, and logistics parks. Our role is to implement digital solutions to complement the top-notch hard infrastructure with innovative soft infrastructure. This digital aspect of DP World will streamline and power cargo movement across the globe and make Dubai stronger. Nowadays, data is the key to doing business. DP World is one of the most active port operators; we are an effective trade enabler facilitating business across supply chains. That is what will make Jebel Ali more competitive; the whole new vision of DP World is to maximize the utilization of ports and hard infrastructure.

Active in various markets of different levels of technological sophistication, how is the DT World solution suitable for all?
80% of the business of cargo movement is the same all over the world. For example, looking at customs declaration, the types of contracts and incoterms of business between the buyer and the importer or exporter are internationally agreed upon. Language is one thing that varies from region to region, and our solution is language agnostic. The remaining 20% is about the peculiarity of each region or market, and we customize our solution to adapt accordingly. Our biggest competitive advantage is not the IT part but the trade business process domain expertise. We are a business innovation company propelling digital transformation. We create and provide solutions to help businesses deliver better productivity, increase efficiency, reach new markets, and increase revenue.

How is DT World leveraging on the opportunities created by Expo 2020?
We are working with the Expo directly. We are doing a project for pavilion owners to bring their goods from all over the world and creating streamlined processes for them. We have over 20 free zones in Dubai so the story of Dubai will continue through the legacy of Expo 2020.

What is your vision for Dubai Trade and DT World?
In terms of ocean freight, there are many fragmented systems that are not well integrated. Our challenge is to make it more streamlined. Our vision is to become the platform of choice that digitally integrates stakeholders and facilitates cargo movement at every step of the process. Infused in this integrated process will be trust, transparency, and scalability. Moreover, we seek to bridge gaps in trade finance and insurance by introducing innovative digital solutions. We are entrepreneurial, open minded, and determined to create solutions and solve pain points for success. Much like Uber, we will tap into convenience and transparency to fill the many gaps in the import-export business.