Dubai: An investment haven beckons


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Dubai, one of the seven emirates under the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has taken the world of business by storm. By riding on the crest of its robust infrastructure, investor-friendly business environment and its attractive free zones, it has firmly established itself as the global hub for trade and investment. Drawn by the emirate’s irresistible and mouth-watering incentives, many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), startups and multinationals from Nigeria and other African countries are rushing to Dubai to either begin operations or expand. Assistant Editor CHIKODI OKEREOCHA, who has just returned from Dubai, reports. For businesses and investors in Nigeria and other African countries searching for a bountiful Return on Investment (RoI) and a boost in efficiency and global competitiveness, Dubai, one of the seven emirates under the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is the destination of choice. By dangling the proverbial carrot in the form of mouth-watering incentives to existing and prospective businesses, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), startups and multinational corporations (MNCs) seeking to either begin operations or expand their footprints, Dubai has strategically positioned itself as the most sought-after business and investment haven. Some of the incentives that are attracting businesses and investors from Africa, including Nigeria to Dubai, include world-class infrastructure, 100 per cent foreign ownership for mainland businesses in some sectors, 10-year hassle-free visa for investors, reduced fees for electricity consumption for large, medium and small factories. Dubai’s strategic geographic location, forward-looking government and policies, Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), excellent logistics facilities and world class infrastructure, among others, also earned the city its pride of place as the preferred global investment destination. For instance, with regards to EoDB, the UAE was ranked 11th globally in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings 2018, up by 10 spots since 2017. The UAE was also ranked first regionally, even as it claimed the number five spot globally in the Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Competitiveness Rankings 2019. Such favourable rankings are believed to have warmed Dubai, the UAE’s largest and most populous city, to the hearts of not a few investors and business owners from Nigeria and other African countries eager to take advantage of her global footprint in the world of business. The Government of Dubai has also gone a notch higher by establishing a consultative council that includes international companies, allocating as much as 20 per cent of government tenders to SMEs, reducing municipality fees, waiving property registration fines, and scrapping fees related to the aviation industry with the aim of attracting investment to the sector. These initiatives, The Nation learnt, were designed and diligently implemented to ensure a conducive and investor-friendly business environment, boost confidence in the market and reduce the financial burden on businesses and investors coming into Dubai. The Marketing and Corporate Communications Director, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), Mr. Rami Halawani, explained that the incentives were in line with the emirate’s overall ambitious international expansion strategy aimed at positioning it as an international business hub. Halawani, who spoke with select journalists from Africa and India during a ‘Business in Dubai FAM Trip’ organised by Dubai Commerce Marketing, last week, said the incentives, in addition to the Chamber’s push to promote Dubai as a leading trade and investment destination, have led to a significant increase in the number of African companies registered with the Chamber. At the five-day event, which centred on business in Dubai, with the aim of drawing attention to how improved regulations and the afore-mentioned incentives made Dubai the global hub for trade, investment and leisure, Halawani said the number of companies in Nigeria and other African countries registered with Dubai Chamber increased from about 12, 000 in 2015 to 17, 500 in 2017. This represents an increase of 32 per cent. As at end of 2018, the number exceeded 20,000. He also said as part of Dubai’s push in the African market, it has invested about $27 million in Africa in the last three years. The investment, Halawani said, was part of the strategy to link Africa to Dubai, a global metropolitan city and a gateway to the rest of the gulf. He further justified the emirate’s increased focus on Africa thus: “Africa is rich in energy and mineral resources, but lacks the capital, resources and infrastructure to bring this natural wealth to the market. The UAE has access to the capital required by Africa to unlock the potential of its natural resources as well as the infrastructure to sustain economic growth.” According to the DCCI spokesman, Dubai remains a global gateway to Nigeria and other African markets, wh...