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DMCC ‘well placed’ for more trade with Ukraine and Iran

DMCC CEO Ahmed Bin Sulayem Reuters
DMCC CEO Ahmed Bin Sulayem says the free trade zone is seeing 'strong interest' from Ukrainian businesses
  • DMCC trade freezone hopes to boost ties with Iran and Ukraine
  • UAE is home to 400,000 Iranian expats, most living in Dubai
  • DMCC registered a record 708 new companies in Q1 2023

Trade and enterprise freezone the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre is looking to forge closer trade ties with both Ukraine and Iran to take advantage of the countries’ growing trade appetite. 

“Dubai is well placed to benefit from Saudi and Iran’s recent decision to resume diplomatic relations given the large number of Iranians living in Dubai and our historically strong trading links,” Ahmed Bin Sulayem, CEO of the DMCC told AGBI.

Bin Sulayem said that DMCC is also seeing “strong” interest from Ukrainian companies. 

The DMCC is currently home to 231 Ukrainian companies and 148 Iranian companies. 

The number of Ukrainian businesses setting up in Dubai rose by around 25 percent in the past year, the Ukrainian Business Council in Dubai and Northern Emirates told AGBI in March

The UAE, meanwhile, is currently home to an estimated 400,000 Iranian expatriates, the majority of whom live in Dubai. Iran is however subject to an array of sanctions imposed by the US, UN and other members of the international community.

In early April, bilateral trade prospects with Iran were given a boost when Tehran appointed an ambassador to the UAE for the first time since 2016 – one month after Riyadh said it would re-establish relations with Tehran in a China-brokered deal.

Bin Sulayem said he expects increased Iranian exports of precious stones, gold and raw materials to Dubai, as well as food. 

Esports is also another burgeoning growth area for the DMCC – the freezone is now home to more than 80 esports and gaming companies and is in talks with both LaLiga and Galaxy Sports about establishing new partnerships.

Crypto challenges

The freezone is currently home to more than 550 crypto companies, the highest number in the region. 

Noting the volatility in the crypto markets and the high-profile demise of crypto exchange FTX, bin Sulayem said the DMCC would soon be opening a Binance Academy to help educate users. 

“What’s important for us is that businesses are disclosing how they operate and people are educated in how to use it.” 

Bin Sulayem also addressed whether Saudi’s Regional Headquarters Program posed a challenge to the DMCC. 

In 2021, Riyadh said its government would cease doing business with any international companies whose regional headquarters were not based within the kingdom by 2024. 

“Let’s say international companies bid for government tenders – are they all going to get access to them? Of course not. And that’s going to be the case for the next 10, 15 or 20 years. 

“For the rest of them, Dubai is a free market and we’re happy with that. We’re not here to take all the business – we want to remain a global trading hub with fair access. So, if you’re headquartered in Saudi and you want to have a branch in Dubai then you’re more than welcome.” 

Bin Sulayem was speaking on the London leg of the DMCC’s “Made For Trade” global roadshow.

In Q1 2023, DMCC attracted a record-breaking 708 new companies to its freezone, bringing its total number of businesses to nearly 23,000.

DMCC currently houses more than 2,000 British companies; equivalent to around 8 percent of its member company base and roughly 40 percent of British businesses in the UAE.