- Hadi Badri, CEO of Economic Development at DET, says Dubai is also looking to increase its foreign trade over the next 5 years through FTAs
DUBAI: Dubai is focusing efforts on attracting the right talent that can support development of its SMEs, which will in turn help the bigger companies, said Hadi Badri, CEO of Economic Development at the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), the principal authority responsible for the supervision and development of the emirate’s economy and tourism sectors.
“We see talent as a key area for us going forward. Initially, we were focused on tourists, now we’re focused on tourists and talent attraction,” Badri told Business Recorder on the sidelines of the recently-concluded GITEX GLOBAL 2022, an event that brought together some 5,000 exhibitors and attracted over 100,000 attendees from 170 countries at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Badri said Dubai has been successful at attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) – a key priority area for the trade- and tourism-based nerve centre of the UAE that has also established itself as the region’s premier business hub – and tasted similar success in drawing corporate headquarters.
“Last year, Dubai was the number one market for FDI globally, in terms of number of projects, and number two globally in terms of attracting corporate headquarters ahead of London and New York. Both FDI and company attraction are key things for us going forward and a lot of that has to do with attracting talent in general.”
The emirate’s push to attract skilled labour comes in tandem with overall efforts to make it easier and quicker for companies to incorporate in Dubai, where Badri says a “dynamic business eco-system” has already made the city one of the fastest growing locations for remote work globally.
Its liberal tourist visa regime helped it attract 9.12 million international visitors during January-August 2022, official data shows, a massive 182% increase year-on-year, as Dubai signaled its recovery from the pandemic. Pakistan remained among Dubai’s top source markets, sitting pretty at 8th place with 253,000 visitors during the eight-month period.
Badri said attracting both tourism and talent, diverse in terms of their need and wants, will be tapped into in tandem.
“We implemented a range of visa policies to attract talent from various segments starting with the Golden visa about two years ago, Investor visas, and more recently, a Green visa allowing people to come and remotely work here in Dubai.”
Badri said Dubai’s diversity – both in terms of business and nationality contexts – make it appealing to skilled talent as well.
“You have over 200 nationalities here. All this is allowing us to attract the right level of talent that can then support SME development that can then support companies to grow and prosper here that can support the capital markets — in terms of companies listing, in terms of venture capital activity.”
Meanwhile, Badri said Dubai plans to enhance its volume of foreign trade from $380 billion to $540 billion in the next five years, also focusing its efforts on the tech space especially virtual assets.
“The enhancement in foreign trade is primarily going to come from free trade agreements being signed by the UAE government with other governments around the world.
“When it comes to the tech space, Dubai introduced a blockchain strategy in 2016. In 2022, Dubai launched a metaverse strategy and then the world’s first independent regulator for virtual assets. We see that as an important step to not only support the ecosystem, but also to protect the participants.”
Badri stressed that the third area of focus when it comes to Dubai’s future economic course would be food production, where it intends to triple manufacturing in the coming years “by adopting modern farming techniques”.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022