x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dubai diamond chairman in running for global post

Peter Meeus, the chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, has emerged as a candidate to head the global governing body responsible for keeping blood diamonds out of circulation.

Peter Meeus, the chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, has emerged as a candidate to head the global governing body responsible for keeping blood diamonds out of circulation.

Eli Izhakoff is to stand down as president of the World Diamond Council (WDC) on June 30, a year before the end of his term. "I have run this body for 13 years," he said at the Dubai Diamond Conference at Almas Tower yesterday. "Now it is time for the body to evolve."

Mr Meeus's candidacy was revealed by Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), as the conference opened yesterday morning.

"Dubai is in a very important position in the global diamond trade," Mr bin Sulayem said. "The majority of production happens in Africa, the majority of cutting happens in India. Dubai is right in the middle as a facilitator for the trade. I support Peter's candidacy."

The WDC was established in 2000 in response to mounting concern over the trade of blood diamonds, stones mined in war zones of western Africa, often with child labour. The proceeds from the diamonds' sale went to finance conflict.

Mr Meeus's candidacy emerged with the WDC poised to embark on a process of reform, which is being led by the outgoing Mr Izhakoff.

"One of the things we are looking for is a professional chief executive to run things at the WDC. And then we are looking for a chairman who will be rotating every two years from a different sector of the industry - the miners one year, the jewellers one year," Mr Izhakoff said.

"Peter has been around the diamond industry for a long time," Mr Izhakoff said. "He knows the industry inside-out. He knows the politics. He will be a candidate and there will be many others I am sure. The best politician will win. It all depends on one's ability to bring everybody together."

Mr Meeus said his platform will aim to convince the board the diamond trade has made a shift from West to East and that the president should be based in the East.

Dubai has risen rapidly to the top three diamond trading centres in the world.

"The diamond business was established in the West with one centre, which for centuries was Antwerp, Belgium, and then Amsterdam," Mr Meeus said.

"Now we basically want proper representation, and that is why Ahmed bin Sulayem and the DMCC have asked me to be a candidate."

Mr Meeus came to Dubai in 2006 after he failed to convince his colleagues in Antwerp to expand into India and the East.

"Now they have a presence in India, they have a presence in Turkey and elsewhere. They have no other choice; it is the way the industry was going but they could not see that," he said.

 

jdoran@thenational.ae