Western Union has offices in Dubai and in Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific?
In terms of the infrastructure, opportunities, and talent you can hire and recruit to serve your interests as a company, Dubai makes sense for Western Union. A more difficult question to answer would be, “why not Dubai?" Given all that Dubai has to offer, it was tough to choose any other city. I would like to thank Dubai as a city and a leader as it has always given us the opportunity to do business and we have always had its support. I must commend the authorities here on how business friendly it is in Dubai.
How do you see the growth of the remittance business in the UAE, and how can your company boost it?
You cannot talk about remittances without talking about migration and migration influx. I have lived in Dubai for 14 years and I have seen the city move through so many phases, but always moving forward in terms of population, number of migrants, and variety of ethnicities and communities. It is mindboggling when you look around and you see how many nationalities have been attracted by Dubai to make this their home. All of these people are going to be in need of a money transfer at one point and will be part of the remittance industry. When you think about remittances, you need to think about the people who leave their home countries to come and work to build up the infrastructure and services of a host country while also helping their loved ones back at home. We have seen a lot of migration occurring between Africa and Europe and between South Asia and the US, but what you see in Dubai are migrants who are attracted to the lifestyle that Dubai offers, and the scope is very wide-ranging from blue collar to white collar employees. Most of us are migrants here today and we will have the need to conduct a money transfer at one point in time, whether that means sending money back to your family, your loved ones, or to help a friend. I can tell you that the remittance industry is here to stay and here to grow.
What are the new areas that you will be targeting in the region in the coming years?
What HH Sheikh Mohammed, the rulers of the UAE, and the rulers of Dubai have begun to do is take everything into the “e" for “electronic," through programs such as e-gate and e-government. The remittance business is moving into the digital space as well. This does not mean that tomorrow we are going to stop sending money in cash, but we are giving customers the opportunity to decide which channels they wish to use. Today, from behind your desk, you can access your bank account, debit a certain amount, and send it through Western Union. In the past you were not able to do that. Suddenly, your bank account is connected to 500,000 Western Union agent locations around the world in 200 different countries and territories—in just minutes. With government initiatives, Dubai as a leader and pioneer is at the forefront of technology. Remittances are no exception. The UAE government is putting effort and investment behind the remittance industry to provide customers with more choice and control. Western Union will be on that train before it even leaves the station.