What are the roles and responsibilities of Dubai Exports?

AL AWADI: Dubai Exports is a government organization within the Department of Economic Development in Dubai. Its main role is to increase the value and volume of exports and trade out of Dubai. There are a lot of activities which we do to boost trade and exports, working hand-in-hand with private businesses and enabling them to go global. We are seeing excellent results, I mean, Dubai and businesses here are doing an incredible job in conventional and new markets.

Dubai Export facilitates exports for private businesses, through various projects and activities including exhibitions, conferences, missions, country-to-country missions, assistance programs, trade shows and inwards missions etc.

What impact has Dubai Exports had on the volume of exports coming out of Dubai?

AL AWADI: Since the inception of Dubai Exports in 2007, the export percentage of total trade, which consists of imports, exports, and re-exports, has increased from 7% to 13%.

What new markets has Dubai Exports helped open for Dubai-based exporters?

AL AWADI: Our continued efforts have led to businesses here looking at uncharted territories like East Africa, Central Asia, and South America. It has helped small and medium companies to be more global than regional. Countries in East Africa and Central Asia have growth rates close to 8% and hence a lot of opportunities for our small and medium companies. These markets need everything; they need our products and our services.

What efforts are being made to help establish Dubai as the global capital of Islamic economy?

AL AWADI: One of the responsibilities of Dubai Exports is promoting our local products and services. We started focusing on Islamic finance as early as 2008. Islamic finance includes banking, takaful insurance, money exchange, training, certification, education etc. Our first visit in this regard was to Australia, then we went to Germany, France, Indonesia, and Canada. In these missions, we take Dubai companies who are into Islamic products or services along with us to promote them in overseas markets.

Our overseas visits to promote Islamic finance has led to successful outcomes for Dubai companies, like Dubai Islamic Bank. Some of the Islamic Shariah training companies signed a MoU with German counterparts. A Dubai company signed an agreement for training certification with an organisation in Australia. Besides, some universities are developing syllabus and programmes in Shariah compliance.

What makes Dubai well suited to take on the role as the global capital of Islamic economy?

AL AWADI: I think Dubai is be the perfect location to be the capital of Islamic economy as envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, for various reasons; Dubai’s location, infrastructure, communications and transports facilities, regulations, guidelines, in short the whole habitat. Islamic and halal products from Dubai are trusted globally, for it’s an Islamic country with a business-friendly government.

What is Dubai Exports' role in promoting the global capital of Islamic economy?

AL AWADI: Dubai Exports is working very closely with the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre to evolve Dubai into the capital of Islamic economy. We have come up with several initiatives: one is to have a halal portal. It is like a gateway for everybody around the world to find out everything about halal online. The second is the hub-to-hub project, which aims to develop Dubai into a hub of halal products and services, like Malaysia or Britain, and leverage Dubai’s advantageous location between the East and West to connect with other hubs. The hub-to-hub concept is very important because the halal market is growing at 15-20% annually and Dubai has to be a competent hub to make good use of this opportunity.

There are a lot of other projects, like promoting halal manufacturing in the foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics sectors. We are exploring how to facilitate such projects and activities in Dubai and make it a global centre for these kinds of products.

How significant a market is there for halal products? What is the current volume of cross-border halal products trade?

AL AWADI: The global halal food market is worth more than $667 billion now, or 2.4 trillion dirhams approximately, and it’s almost 20% of the total food trade worldwide. In addition, the halal food growth rate will increase between 15 to 20% for the next five years, and will hit $1.6 trillion by 2018.

What are the major challenges is establishing and developing the Islamic economy?

AL AWADI: There are a few challenges, and we are overcoming these challenges by evolving standards and getting them adopted by the OIC countries as well as trying to have accreditation organisations and laboratories, especially for halal food and halal manufacturing. These standards can be unified worldwide, which can solve most of the challenges we have nowadays.

How is Dubai Exports pursuing innovation in line with the overall direction of the Dubai government?

AL AWADI: Innovation is a hot subject nowadays, and Dubai Exports, like most other government organizations is looking at innovative ideas, innovative services, and innovative projects. We participated in a couple of international visits to the US and other countries to look at entrepreneurship and innovation, and how we can transfer knowledge and technology from all around the world to Dubai.

What are Dubai Exports' major goals going forward?

AL AWADI: Dubai Exports wants Dubai to be the hub not only for the region but also for the world. We want all our procedures to be guided by innovation and technology transfer in future.  We also aim to have our offices all around the world, and see our local companies growing into global companies.