How well established are the economic links between Dubai and Latin America?
HAMAD BUAMIM: The relationship between Latin America and the UAE in general has been strengthened during the past few years at different levels; at the political level, at the business level, at the people level, the arts, and even tourism. One important milestone for us in terms of relationship, during 2014, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, the Ruler of Dubai, visited a number of countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Chile, which highlights the importance of building the relationship even further.
Based on the studies we conducted, we believe that through organizing a Latin American addition in our Global Business Forum series, we'll be able to establish a platform, to be able to discuss potential opportunities to strengthen the relationship further between both of the regions.
What is the current level of trade between Dubai and Latin America? What are the prospects for growth?
HAMAD BUAMIM: In 2015, the non-oil trade between Dubai and Latin America stood around 17-18 billion Dirhams ($4.6-4.9bn). For us, we see this quite small. It's less than 2 percent of the total trade of Dubai and looking at what Dubai trades with, we believe there are more opportunities that can be done between Dubai and United Arab Emirates from one side and Latin America. And we hope through platforms and events that we are targeting to organize, such as the Global Business Forum on Latin America, we'll be able to facilitate the ties of trade and investments to be able to grow the business relationship even further.
What are the major barriers to business that exist between Dubai and LATAM markets? How are these barriers being addressed?
HAMAD BUAMIM: When you look at the map, I would say the distance is the biggest barrier between both of us. However, we see this as a historical barrier. Now when you see what Emirates Airlines is doing of flying direct flights to cities such as Sao Paolo, Rio, and Buenos Aires. Even Etihad is putting direct flights and there are more and more flights to connect both sides of the world. This will hopefully address the issue of distance.
Also, look at Dubai Ports, organizing and managing number of ports in Latin America. That's also I would say shortening the shipping routes between Dubai and Latin America. And this address the issue of cost and opportunity of the business relationship between both sides. Again, as a Chamber, we are looking into ways to boost the trade and promote the ties between both sides, to be able to deal with these limited barriers and look at them from opportunities point of view.
What do you hope the Global Business Forum on Latin America is going to achieve?
HAMAD BUAMIM: Dubai Chamber is taking the vision of His Highness, to be able to strengthen the business relationship further between Latin American countries and United Arab Emirates. And within that, we are organizing the Latin American Global Business Forum, to be able to establish a platform, to be able to discuss the opportunities and highlight the potential between both sides.
I would say the distance is the biggest barrier between both of us. However, we see this as a historical barrier.
The event we are putting together, it's important from our point of view to be able to showcase what can be done with Latin America. We are giving a platform for the Latin American countries to come and to tell us what the opportunities will be there. From our side, of course we want to open opportunities for our businesses in Latin America to be able to do business with, to invest in Latin America. Also, we'd like to be able to attract businesses from Latin America to come to Dubai, to use Dubai as a hub to enter our own region that has a lot of opportunities. I believe there are areas where Dubai businesses and Latin American businesses have competitive advantage and synergies that we can work them together. And we hope through the events we'll be able to facilitate this relationship.
There will be senior government officials. There would be business men and women, entrepreneurs, policy makers where we'll also discuss challenges and this is very important for us. These are I would say some of our activities we are putting together to be able to strengthen the relationship between our regions and Latin America.
We're also considering establishing an office in Sao Paolo to be able to facilitate the relationship of businesses in Dubai and the whole of Latin America. We are considering also a few other cities in Latin America. All in all, we believe there are lots of opportunities that can be tackled and this events can be one of the platform to be able to discuss this and take it to the next level.