x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Dubai finds itself in the right place

Business opportunities in the region are encouraging more Far Eastern companies to set up in Dubai.

Increasing numbers of Far Eastern companies are setting up in Dubai as they use the emirate as a launching pad for expansion into the Middle East and Africa.

Their presence is not only providing a much-needed tonic for the private sector but is also boosting trade with fast-growing economies such as China.

"Dubai is becoming a regional headquarters for business development in the Middle East and north Africa," said Mark McFarland, an emerging markets economist at Emirates NBD in Dubai.

Dubai's location at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia means it is well positioned as a gateway for entry into rapidly developing consumer markets from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.

Japanese makers of electronics and cars are especially keen to boost sales in the region to offset stuttering domestic demand, say officials. Easy access by air and other developed infrastructure make the emirate attractive.

Evidence shows that companies from the Far East are expanding their presence in Dubai.

Chinese business customers in the UAE of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) rose 40 per cent last year compared with 2009, the bank said. Its lending to Chinese companies increased 15 per cent over the same period. ICBC is the world's biggest lender.

About 20 Japanese companies have moved to the UAE in the past two years, mainly in Dubai, according to the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro). Car, engineering and energy firms were among those setting up in the emirate.

"There are so many opportunities in Dubai, which makes it a good place to position yourself in the region," said Gavin Tang, a Chinese businessman and general manager of Multiple Events in the UAE.

Improved transport links, better security and a lower cost of production meant Dubai was a more sensible location for headquarters than elsewhere in the region, Mr McFarland said.

In 2009, a total of 2,346 Chinese companies were registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. There were 125 South Korean and 67 Japanese companies registered with the chamber.