Dubai’s diversified and solid economic framework: Key insights from the live webinar

Dubai’s diversified and solid economic framework: Key insights from the live webinar 

On 11 June 2024, Seed Group hosted a compelling live webinar centred on Dubai’s and the UAE’s diversified and sustainable economic infrastructure. The event featured a stellar group of panellists from the UAE government, Mayer Brown, and the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum.

Notably, the online discussion had a great turnout, including CEOs and executives from diverse global industries eager to grasp the economic, tax, and regulatory factors for conducting business in the country.

Diverse economic framework

In 2023, the UAE’s non-oil sectors contributed 74.3% to its GDP. In particular, Dubai’s GDP saw a 3.5% year-over-year rise in Q3 2023, according to a May 2023 report by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This development is driven by the growth in non-oil sectors like transportation & storage (12%) and accommodation & food services activities (16%).

Given Dubai’s diversified and booming economy, it’s crucial for international companies — whether start-ups or SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) — to leverage these opportunities. During the webinar, Omnia Hamed, Senior Director of International Ventures at The Private Office, acknowledged the city’s economic landscape. She also emphasised the massive potential for global SMBs in the emirate, stating, “Regardless of which industry you are trying to penetrate, you will definitely have an opportunity.”

In addition, Hamed highlighted how trade and exhibition events like Gulfood and GITEX, along with programmes such as Dubai Future Accelerators, largely contribute to Dubai’s growth.

Well-rounded ‘D33’ Agenda

To further the emirate’s economic development, a well-rounded roadmap was launched: the Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’.

The ‘D33’ Agenda is a comprehensive project that spans ten years and seeks to elevate the socio-economic status of Dubai, with the ultimate goal of positioning the emirate among the top three global cities by 2033. This initiative involves supporting 400 high-potential start-ups and SMBs, establishing a research and development sandbox, and propelling 30 companies to become global unicorns in untapped markets. Notably, the ‘D33’ Agenda was discussed by Dr. Reem Lebhar, Advisor to the UAE Government.

Dr. Lebhar demystified the key strategies under the project, focusing on sustainable approaches aimed at enhancing Dubai’s financial ecosystem and securing a green and livable environment.

Business zones, visas, and zero bureaucracy programme

Without a doubt, Dubai is a paragon of diversification, and to ensure it remains stable as well as appeal to global investors and talent, a strong regulatory framework has been established for Emirati entrepreneurs and multinational SMBs. During the online dialogue, Suheil Rabeh, Director of Government and Compliance at Seed Group and The Private Office, explained that various factors need to be considered when setting up a business in Dubai. Ultimately, the decision to establish on the mainland or in a free zone depends on an entrepreneur’s specific needs and goals. He also provided a comprehensive overview of the different visa options, with a specific focus on the newly introduced ‘mission’ and ‘golden’ visas.

Recognising the UAE’s proactive measures to shape and reshape its licencing rules as well as improve a variety of economic strategies, Rabeh said, “Dubai is well known for its regulatory updates and initiatives.”  He went on to highlight a complementary initiative that prioritises privatising government services to reduce bureaucracy: Zero Government Bureaucracy. Introduced under the visionary leadership of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Zero Government Bureaucracy programme aims to make 90% of governmental processes available on a unified and accessible platform.

Fiscal considerations

Supplementing the three speakers’ discussions, Jad Taha, Partner at Mayer Brown – Middle East Practice and Leader of Corporate & Securities, Global Mobility & Migration, provided insights on the intricacies of the UAE’s taxation framework. He expounded on the country’s corporate tax regime and delineated these considerations based on specific qualifying criteria.

Concluding his presentation, Taha said, “There are multiple sources of finance in this country, between equity and debt… Venture capital firms for start-ups and other smaller businesses, government and quasi-government funds, and other initiatives as well, are very prevalent and very popular types of sources of funding.” Indeed, global companies striving for local market entry in the UAE can benefit from understanding these diverse funding opportunities, which are essential for making strategic decisions moving forward.

The bottom line

The enlightening points covered in the webinar shall empower international companies to navigate and take advantage of Dubai’s and the UAE’s strong economic environment. This will draw in global investments, leading to the development of leading-edge solutions, and ultimately placing the country among the top ranks across various criteria worldwide.

For those who missed or wish to revisit the insightful online discussion, here is the recording of the event:

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