The Dubai Chamber is focusing on improving economic relations with both Africa and the CIS region. Why are you focusing on these specific markets?
HAMAD BUAMIM: When we identified Africa and CIS, we were looking for areas of emerging economies with potential for growth where Dubai businesses, with their competitive advantages, can enter these markets and can contribute benefits to their economies. The good proximity and the infrastructure that we have make them very viable choices and we would like to build on that.
How important are the historical trade links between Dubai and the Gulf region and the CIS countries?
HAMAD BUAMIM: We are working around the concepts of the new Silk Road that's connecting the economies of China to Europe through the CIS countries and through the Gulf region. We are trying to revive what they call the North Ring Corridor, which connects the GCC with the Eurasian Economic Union. It has a lot of opportunities, we believe, because of the proximity between Dubai and the GCC from one angle and these emerging economies from the other angle. There can be a lot of things to explore, opportunities from one side and also of course understanding the risks and dealing with them.
What is the current scope of trade between Dubai and the CIS countries? What are the prospects for growth in trade?
HAMAD BUAMIM: In 2014, we had almost $6bn worth of non-oil trade between Dubai and the region with quite good double digit growth when it comes to imports and exports. We expect that there is a lot of potential that can be tapped. One important element is that there is very strong connectivity between Dubai and the several CIS countries. There is very good infrastructure that we believe we can build on going forward.
The CIS countries and Dubai and GCC have a relationship, however, it’s evolving. As I said, from one side, we have the proximity, we have the connectivity, and there are a number of our companies that exist over there such as Dubai Ports. We believe we can build on whatever exist already. And through our theme 'Ancient Routes and New Opportunities' we want to expand on that.
We have an office in Baku, Azerbaijan. We want to expand our presence, as Dubai Chamber, going forward and open more opportunities for our business community from one side. We also want to open opportunities for the CIS business community in all these different countries to know more about the GCC and to look at what can be done in the GCC through Dubai. We believe there are opportunities in infrastructure, in supply chain and logistics, and in trade. And of course, through connecting cities such as Dubai all the way to Moscow, we want to revive this route, so all the countries in between have to contribute to the logistics of trade, the logistics of human beings, and we believe this will open up new opportunities for business communities in this whole region.
The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has come into force, uniting over 180m people in a single market. How does the EEU change the equation for Dubai-CIS economic cooperation?
HAMAD BUAMIM: The EEU common market that came into force will ease the development and movements of goods and services, and hopefully labor of course, between all these different markets and we hope it will contribute to opening a bigger sized market for Dubai businesses.
Any common markets always provide opportunities for bigger size of the economies, and we see this new development as a very positive development because it will ease movements of goods, movements of people, and hopefully it will increase the size of these economies. So if one of our traders or businessmen deal with Kazakhstan, he will be able to move his goods to the other economies. So it's a very positive development and I hope we'll be able to see the results going forward.
What is the Dubai Chamber doing to facilitate trade and economic activity with the CIS countries?
HAMAD BUAMIM: Back in 2012, we opened our first international office in Baku and since then we've been taking a number of mission to different CIS countries. We took them to Azerbaijan, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. We will continue working closely with these economies by receiving delegations and sending businessmen. We’ve started seeing some results by attracting more businessmen to come establish in Dubai.
In 2014, we had almost $6bn worth of non-oil trade between Dubai and the (CIS) region.
What is the vision behind the CIS Global Business Forum?
HAMAD BUAMIM: The CIS Global Business Forum, it's a platform to showcase CIS countries in terms of opportunities. It will be a great opportunity for the businessmen to come and interact with the officials from governments, and also to have business matching between the different investors and businesses. Hopefully, we'll be able to showcase Dubai as a meeting point where the connectivity with all of these countries will make a lot of sense.
We believe Dubai can provide an excellent platform for CIS businessmen to establish outside their countries, to connect with the world, the Middle East, Africa, or South Asia or those that want to connect with the global centers in the West or the East.
We believe Dubai, through this conference, can work closely with a number of CIS cities in terms of partnership, in terms of sharing the best practices that can be learned from both sides. Also, we are bringing opportunities for the businessmen to understand more what's going on in the CIS regions and work around them.
Infrastructure and logistics are two of Dubai’s strengths as well as key factors limiting trade and growth in the CIS region. What lessons can be learned from Dubai’s success and implemented in the CIS markets in this regard?
HAMAD BUAMIM: Actually, Dubai as a model for the CIS economies, this is one of the major interest points for most of these countries to deal with us in the CIS Global Business Forum. We developed quite rapidly over the last 15 years. We have a lot of similarities with these emerging economies, and a lot of things can be learned by the different cities, such as Baku or others, that can copy a lot of what we did in this city and develop their own economies based on that.
We believe that the areas of infrastructure, tourism, financial services, supply chain, and logistics are areas of cooperation between Dubai and CIS countries. Of course, Dubai provides an excellent business environment that attracts investors from all over the world and we believe that investors and businessmen from CIS countries can find Dubai an excellent place to live, visit, and work in.