The Business Year

Hani R. Al Hamli

UAE, DUBAI - Economy

A New Generation

Secretary General, Dubai Economic Council (DEC)


Hani Rashid Al Hamli is the Secretary General of DEC. His tenure has seen the establishment of the Dubai Competitiveness Center (DCC), the Economic Policy & Research Center (EPRC) and the Legal Affairs & Research Center (LARC). He has pursued strategic partnerships to enhance the scientific efforts underpinning economic policy.
Previously, Al Hamli had held diverse public and private sector positions in Dubai, including the Executive Council-Government of Dubai, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Emirates Bank Group, and the Investment & Development Authority. He is a graduate of Business Administration from the UAE Higher Colleges of Technology.

What was the purpose of creating the Dubai Economic Council (DEC)? The DEC was established to act as an advisory entity for the government of Dubai in economic decision making. […]

What was the purpose of creating the Dubai Economic Council (DEC)?

The DEC was established to act as an advisory entity for the government of Dubai in economic decision making. As a think tank, it is the first of its kind in the UAE to provide initiatives and policy recommendations to the government for the wellbeing of citizens. We will cover many of the remarkable early days of Dubai and the UAE in our forthcoming book. It will trace Dubai’s origins as a mercantile hub and its strength through a shared vision and leadership. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, is keen to increase consultations and activities that allow him to see the diverse views of the representatives of the public and private sectors.

How do you design your policies to adapt to the different demands of companies from various sectors?

First of all, it might be pertinent to mention that the DEC is mandated to propose forward-looking initiatives and policies to the government of Dubai, and not to private companies. Nonetheless, everybody here, including the Secretariat General, is aware of local market needs. In short though, we deal with macro-level issues and are an important tool for decision-making circles in the country.

You have initiated the Economic Policy and Research Center (EPRC) and the Legal Affairs Research Center (LARC). What do each of these add to the DEC?

EPRC deals with macroeconomic, sectorial, and economic growth issues, while LARC deals with legal and other regulatory matters; both are essential when formulating policies. This ensures a strong regulatory framework that mitigates the continuous changes in the local and global business environment. Our published books include commentary on taxation in Dubai and the currency union. Recently, we published our quarterly review on Dubai.

What are your priorities to promote sustainable growth in the context of the Vision 2020?

The UAE is advancing toward a knowledge-based economy, and we recognize the pre-requisites for this strategy, namely: good education, innovation, and competitiveness. The DEC believes in sustainable development through its partnerships and has established a number of them with local and international organizations. For example, the partnership with the Commercial Law Development Program (US Department of Commerce) and the UAE Ministry of Justice saw the initiation of a training program for judges, which we hope to continue annually along with the recent Arab International Chambers of Commerce training program concluded in China. Such partnerships enable sustainable economic development, and DEC’s network contributes toward Dubai’s economic growth.

How was the 2009 crunch taken as an opportunity to rethink the economic model here?

This was not only the case in Dubai, but worldwide. Dubai was affected simply because of its dynamics. That is, we are a part of the global economy. Nevertheless, if we look at the real estate sector in the US and many other countries, people were being asked to leave their properties to settle debts with the banks. Dubai built excellent infrastructure, and since then those assets have appreciated, not depreciated. Real estate will have a crunch time, but will rise again. It is the same as London, Paris, Barcelona, or Istanbul. Cooperation is important, too, and we have reflected that in our policies. His Highness’ directions clearly stated that the rights of everyone must be protected. A law was passed to universally guarantee all deposits within the UAE banking system. In sum, the DEC believes that despite the impact of the global financial crisis, it can provide significant lessons for all countries and companies: first, to advocate a visionary strategy toward the future, and, second, to formulate sound policies to achieve short- and medium-term objectives.

What are your expectations for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

Arguably, the first priority for the government now is macroeconomic stability in order to attract more FDI and grow the economy. Second, Emiratization of the UAE labor force is key to future sustainable growth. We lack natural resources, but we are rich in infrastructure. Dubai is also expected to grow at a rate of more than 4% in 2013, and the government has announced major projects, such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid (MBR) City, which is set to redefine Dubai’s regional and global profile. Meanwhile in tourism, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has announced a plan to attract 20 million visitors per annum by 2020.



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