Can you elaborate on Dubai Customs' smart government initiatives and other innovative capacities?
Dubai Customs recently won the innovation platinum award with a six-star rating from EFQM Global Excellence Award, scoring 700 points out of 1,000, the highest among all participating organizations. With this exceptional achievement, Dubai Customs has become the first organization in the world to win this reputable global award based on the new rating system in 2019. Winning the EFQM award is an international recognition of our leading achievements and the advanced level we have reached in customs innovation. The objective of the EFQM Excellence Award Program is to recognize role model organizations around the world. The program has one of the most challenging assessment processes. As a role model organization, we have invested in innovation in order to develop and upgrade customs procedures to introduce the best services and trade facilities. As a leading government department, Dubai Customs has introduced different development programs and innovative systems that help maintain its leading position in the Emirate. These include the Smart Risk Engine, Mirsal, and the Authorized Economic Operator. We recently launched the second phase of the productivity engine, which showed positive results across multiple indicators. The engine, developed in-house by Dubai Customs, uses AI to boost productivity, reduce costs, and ensure customer satisfaction. We are targeting 8% to 10% increase in productivity over the next 12 months. We have certain targets that we look forward to, which include reducing workload by 16.8%, increasing productivity by 35.5%, and boosting employee commitment by 5.2%. This will save us around 1.3 million work hours.
How do you assess Dubai Customs' role in enabling trade and maintaining Dubai's position as a global trade hub?
Indicators for 1H2019 showed that Dubai's external non-oil trade grew 31% YoY. In terms of value, external trade rose 5% YoY to AED676 billion from AED644 billion. Notably, between 2009 and 2019, external trade has made a stunning 87% growth. These results reflect Dubai's robustness in turning challenges that face global trade into opportunities and achievements and its ability to attract investments from around the world. Exports made the biggest growth in 1H2019 with 46% in weight to reach 10 million tons and 17% in value to AED76 billion. Re-exports grew 39% to 9 million tons and rose in value 3% to AED210 billion. Imports also grew in weight 26% to reach 38 billion tons and in value by 4% to AED390 billion. The prospective for trade activity in our region is positive, and we are optimistic about the future, especially with the advent of Expo 2020 and the UAE's strategy for the next 50 years.
Can you comment on Dubai Customs' global prominence amongst customs organizations?
Hosting the fifth WCO Global AEO Conference in March 2020, in cooperation with the Federal Customs Authority, is an indication of the world's confidence in the potential and capabilities of Dubai Customs. Through its publications, the World Customs Organization has repeatedly highlighted the advanced procedures and practices followed by Dubai Customs. This included a report titled "Dubai Customs' journey into the future of customs," which focuses on development programs and a number of articles on the Virtual Corridor initiative, the Authorized Economic Operator, the iDeclare application, and the Virtual Training program. Hosting the conference is part of Dubai's efforts in maintaining its leading position as trade hub.
How will Expo 2020 impact the economy, and what is Dubai Customs' involvement in the event?
Dubai Customs has dedicated a customs clearance channel, named Expo 2020 Smart Customs Channel, through which it will deliver preferential services to Expo 2020 participants and exhibitors. Shipments will be cleared in record time to enable exhibitors to effectively take part in the grand event. Expo 2020 will have a positive impact on the national economy and the development of the tourism, aviation, retail, and shipping sectors.