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Employees examine and weigh uncut diamonds at the Dubai Diamond Exchange in Dubai.
Employees examine and weigh uncut diamonds at the Dubai Diamond Exchange in Dubai.

Diamonds become strong suit for Dubai

Dubai has emerged as one of the most prominent diamond trading hubs in the world with trade in the precious stones closing in on rival centres such as Mumbai and Antwerp

Dubai has emerged as one of the most prominent global diamond trading hubs, with trade in the precious stones closing in on rival centres such as Mumbai and Antwerp.

Dubai traded a record US$39 billion (Dh143.25bn) in diamonds in 2011, putting it in third place worldwide.

In the same year Antwerp, which was at the forefront of the global diamond trade for centuries until it was recently usurped by Mumbai, traded about $50bn worth of diamonds, while close to $60bn worth of stones passed through Mumbai.

Data for Dubai diamond trading last year were not yet available but DMCC sources believe the international pecking order will be similar to 2011, while overall trade might be lower because of a drop in the price of stones.

The diamond trade in Dubai has grown incredibly quickly. At its inception in 2003 $5 million of stones were traded through Dubai, according to official figures.

Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), home of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, said the rise to prominence was welcomed but not a goal in itself. "We are an important part of the global market, but we are partners with Antwerp, Mumbai, New York, and all the other major centres. There is no finish line in view for us. We will continue to drive the business with excellence. But there is no first or second or third. We are one of the best diamond centres in the world and we are happy to be in good company."

Monday marks the opening of the Dubai Diamond Conference, which organisers hope will become a biennial event.

"The conference will focus on the important role Dubai is playing as a logistical hub between the African producing countries and the cutting centres in India and the Far East," said Peter Meeus, the chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange.

"2013 will be a game-changing year. One of the main reasons is the move by De Beers from London to Gaborone in Botswana. This will enhance and encourage African producers to send more rough diamonds over the logistical hub in Dubai."

Neil Haddock, the managing director of Global Diamond Tenders, one of the conference sponsors, said: "I was one of the first diamond traders to move to Dubai and set up a DMCC company. At that point there was not a great deal going on here. But so much has changed between 2005 and 2013. There were many sceptics at that point but I think all of the sceptics will eat their words."

Diamond trading is just one spoke in the DMCC, which also trades in gold, pearls and tea, among other commodity related contracts and products.



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