Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 January 2020

Dubai's Annual Investment Meeting expands 2020 conference scope beyond FDI

The event to take place in March will include four more pillars: SMEs, foreign portfolio investment, start-ups and future cities

The Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai will be in its tenth year in 2020. Courtesy Aim
The Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai will be in its tenth year in 2020. Courtesy Aim

The tenth Annual Investment Meeting (Aim) in Dubai to take place in March will focus on several areas beyond foreign direct investment (FDI) for the first time, including small and medium-sized enterprises, foreign portfolio investment, start-ups and future cities.

Under the theme “Investing for the Future: Shaping the Global Investment Strategies”, government leaders and officials, economic experts, global investors and entrepreneurs will convene over three days from March 24 to 26.

“Attracting investments does not only link its spillovers to the local economy. It enables inclusive growth providing long-term benefits to host countries in terms of job creation, enhancement of skill base, transfer of technology and increase in competitiveness,” said Abdullah Al Saleh, the UAE Ministry of Economy’s Undersecretary of Foreign Trade Affairs.

The 2019 event was attended by more than 16,000 visitors from over 140 countries, as well as 150 FDI specialists and economic experts, around 60 dignitaries and more than 400 exhibitors.

Trade tensions and protectionism have hampered global FDI flows, but government officials, policymakers and bankers said at this year’s Aim, technology would be an important avenue for FDI.

Global FDI flows slid by 13 per cent in 2018 to $1.3 trillion (Dh4.77tn) from $1.5tn in 2017 — the third consecutive annual decline, according to Unctad’s World Investment Report 2019 published in June of this year. FDI flows to the UAE remained largely unchanged in 2018, at $10 billion, the report said.

“With the addition of new pillars, Aim can exert stronger influence to achieve wider economic prosperity and improve domestic economic imperfections,” Mr Al Saleh said in a statement.

In the SME space, Aim will work towards narrowing the credit gap by providing a platform to promote their products and services to investors. SMEs represent about 90 per cent of businesses and 50 per cent of employment worldwide, but 65 million SMEs in developing countries struggle with an unmet financing need of $5.2tn every year, according to the International Finance Corporation.

Foreign portfolio investments will be a lucrative source of capital, with the rise of the global population of ultra-high net worth individuals — people with a net worth of more than $30 million. That population is forecast to increase by 22 per cent by 2023, according to the 2019 Wealth Report from Knight Frank.

Aim previously hosted a start-up competition in conjunction with the conference, but it will now take a more prominent position with expanded network opportunities and mentoring sessions. Start-ups will participate in national pitch competitions in 80 countries, before the top winners will be hosted in Dubai to compete for a total of Dh50,000 in cash awards.

Finally, the future cities pillar will focus on smart city solutions and linking project owners with the right investors.

Updated: December 16, 2019 09:27 AM