ON THE RIGHT PATH

UAE 2018 | AJMAN | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ali Eissa Alnuami, Director General of the Department of Economic Development-Ajman (DED-Ajman), on increasing investor happiness, enhancing consumer rights, and treating foreigners like locals.

Ali Eissa Alnuami
BIOGRAPHY
Ali Eissa Alnuaimi graduated from Beirut Arab University in Lebanon with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and business administration. His career began in the banking sector where he held a number of senior positions within various regional and international banks. He was appointed a member of the Federal National Council (FNC) of the UAE, on which he served for four years. He was later appointed to the position of Council Observer, which allowed him to interact with ministers and government officials on matters of national importance. He is currently the Director General of the Department of Economic Development-Ajman and works with the leadership team to improve customer experience regarding conducting business and investing in the Emirate of Ajman.

What is the role of the DED-Ajman?

The role that DED-Ajman plays has been outlined in detail in the Emirate's strategic objectives for 2017-2021. Our work is based on these priorities and falls in line with the UAE's federal vision. Our efforts are highlighted in our continuing move to work closely with other Emirates in order to provide potential and existing investors with a wide array of premium options, which includes lucrative benefits and advantages to be gained from investing in the UAE. DED-Ajman further consolidates these options with the commitment to deliver on these services promised to investors. We are also tasked with increasing the happiness index of these investors, a move that falls in line with the UAE government's overall happiness index initiative. In order to do so, we carefully study and analyze key reports published by notable organizations like the World Bank, taking their recommendations into account and using them as a baseline in our efforts to improve our services, transactions, and processes. The Ease of Doing Business index is also a major area of focus for us as we are always trying to improve the investor experience here. We are also working to enhance consumer rights for residents, which includes dispute resolution. Part of our role is to educate and hold workshops, and we are also tasked with preventing the promulgation of fraudulent goods into the market; therefore, we monitor and conduct inspections to stop the proliferation of counterfeit and pirated goods from entering Ajman.

What is the predominant business activity in Ajman, and how will this change in the coming years?

One of the key sectors is the Emirate's industrial sector, particularly its SME industrial segment. Larger industries present in the country today are more suitable to operate across large emirates like Dubai, and as an alternative, Ajman caters to and remains highly suitable for the smaller SME-style industries, alongside green sectors to further reduce environmental impact. This complements our vision to make Ajman more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Amidst these preferences for SME-based investments, Ajman is still looking to attract more businesses that can add value to our economy. We are especially interested in bringing in businesses that can build an economy based on knowledge rather than labor intensive activities.

How are DED-Ajman's priorities split between developing local talent and bringing in international business?

DED-Ajman's workforce is a good mix of different nationalities that work closely in the move to better understand the views of non-Emiratis. We try to make non-locals feel like they are residents of the UAE and feel welcome. We train our customer service representatives to provide foreigners with quality service both in terms of information and a customer-friendly interaction. The environment in the UAE and the mix of nationalities you find here means that key departments such as the Department of Economic Development need to create a harmonious culture that incorporates Emirati with foreign values. Ultimately, this means making life more comfortable and raising the ease of doing business, especially compared to other markets where a lack of a cultural mélange makes business more difficult for foreign investors.

Other than FDI from India and China, are there any other markets that are particularly important for Ajman?

Ajman has an excellent, diverse mix of investors, many of whom come from South or East Asia. We also have a large pool of Arab investors from the GCC and other countries in the Middle East, along with investors from Central Asia. One advantage we have is that life in Ajman is easier than in Dubai and other big cities. Ajman is ranked immediately after Dubai in the World Bank's ease of doing business ratings, which reaffirms our belief that Ajman is on the right path.