Many international businesses which are interested in developing their market in the Middle East have been lured by some attractive features offered by Dubai. The sheer size of the market in Dubai has been increasing at a steady pace. Although the United Arab Emirates has a relatively smaller population than other Middle East countries, its total imports have been registering a steady growth with the passing of each year. The impressive performance can be attributed to the fact that Dubai has emerged as the major re-export centre for the entire Middle East region.
Dubai's non-oil imports have been growing by leaps and bounds since early 80's. These figures are certain to gain further momentum in the coming years as many of the economies of the region (which are being serviced by Dubai) are still at a relatively early stage of development. As a result, there is plenty of long-term scope for diversification and expansion. As a major supplier of goods to such emerging markets as India, the CIS, Central Asia and Africa, Dubai is well poised to further strengthen its status as the distribution hub of the Middle East. As one of the most active and outgoing markets in the region, Dubai has the potential to promote almost any type of goods and services. In a regional context, Dubai has been playing an important role catering to the increasing demand for foodstuff, high technology equipment and luxury products in the small but prosperous Gulf countries. In addition to inter-Gulf trade, Dubai also reaches an "outlying ring" of huge markets including East African countries, the CIS, Iran and the Indian sub-continent. Therefore, by establishing a base in Dubai, international businessmen, manufacturers and exporters of less sophisticated equipment and mass consumer products can also successfully find readily available buyers for their goods.
The absence of any foreign exchange controls, quotas or trade barriers makes Dubai one the most attractive trading posts in the region. The fact that import duties are extremely low, and that many products are exempt, further adds to the status of Dubai as the business centre of the Middle East. As a further incentive, businessmen will be impressed by the Emirate's efficient transport and telecommunications infrastructure - an absolute must in today's fast moving corporate world. Dubai's ports, considered to be one of the best in the world, are served by more than 100 shipping lines. And the Dubai International Airport, which will soon undergo a major expansion project, is served by over 70 airlines at present.
Yet, one of the most unique features of Dubai is its ability to conduct international business with a local flavour. Foreign businessmen are often impressed by Dubai-based entrepreuners who are able to blend their local and regional expertise with a full understanding of international business practices. Unlike some other parts of the world, language has never been a restraining factor in Dubai's multi-cultural trading community. English is commonly used as the main language of business in addition to almost all major dialects of the world. Would-be investors can also avail of advisory services from foreign banks, lawyers and other advisor - including the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the Economic Department, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority. The various incentives offered by Dubai has already attracted manufacturers and exporters from all over the world. Therefore, any new entrants seeking success in the lucrative Dubai market must make sure that their products can compete in price, technology, design and value. Competition, as they say, breeds quality.
The UAE has a fairly well developed and modern infrastructure. Land transportation is by road. A concrete road network links all main cities. Authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are busily engaged in widening existing roads and upgrading the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway. There is no rail system in the UAE, nor any domestic air transportation network, despite the fact that five of the seven emirates have modern airports. All the emirates have modern seaports. The port of Jebel Ali in Dubai is the largest manmade port in the world. Goods are imported for the most part by sea and distributed by truck within the UAE and to nearby locations in neighboring GCC countries.
As part of its drive to diversify its economy away from oil to regional trade, Dubai has developed two seaports and its airport to handle re-export cargo with considerable expertise and precision. Given that international shippers operating between Europe and the Far East prefer to make only one stop in the Gulf, Dubai has managed to secure the lion's share of the business of unloading, breaking down, and reloading cargo for onward shipment. Dubai's physical facilities and sheer expertise in this area make its ports the preferred stops for most shippers on these routes.
Dubai aggressively seeks out new re-export markets, and it has developed trade ties with the newly independent Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union and South Africa. Cargo unloaded at Dubai and ferried across the Gulf to Iranian ports is then brought to markets in central Asia via Iranian road and rail lines. Dubai 's cargo village at its international airport handles more air cargo than any other airport in the region, much of it coming into Dubai by sea from the Far East or the subcontinent and then going out by air to Europe.
FREE TRADE ZONES
There are at several free zones operating in the UAE and more are planned. Since UAE tariffs are low and are not levied against most imports, the chief attraction of the free zones is the waiver of the requirement for majority local ownership. In the free zones, foreigners may own up to 100 per cent of the equity in an enterprise. The largest and most successful of the free zones is the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) in Dubai. Each free zone offers special incentives to attract tenants, such as no taxation for many years, subsidized energy rates, and full repatriation of capital and profits. In addition, for a nominal fee the zone authorities provide significant support services, such as sponsorship, worker housing, dining facilities, recruitment, and security.
Dubai offers the visitor a fascinating kaleidoscope of contrasts a distinctive blend of modern city and timeless desert, east and west, old and new. An exotic destination with a cosmopolitan lifestyle, Dubai combines the comfort and convenience of the western world with the unique charm and hospitality of Arabia.
The city offers superb facilities for sport and recreation, from golf and watersports to desert safaris and dhow cruises. Or simply the opportunity to relax and enjoy year-round sunshine on clean, uncrowded beaches.
Dubai is known as a shoppers' paradise. Gold, jewellery, designer clothes, cameras, electronics, oriental rugs - whatever your taste, you'll find it here. From ancient souks to luxurious shopping malls, the visitor can count on bargains galore. Dubai's culture firmly rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia courtesy and hospitality are among the most highly prized virtues. You are sure to be charmed by the genuine warmth and friendliness that greets the visitors.
For first-time visitors, an ideal starting point is Dubai's picturesque Creek, a natural inlet from the Gulf which bisects the city into Deira and Bur Dubai. From the Creek, traditional wooden dhows set out for the ports of India, the Gulf and East Africa, just as they have for generations. On its banks, the bustle of loading and unloading makes for a fascinating sight. The windtowers of the Bastakiya district, the narrow alleys of the souks, the restored house of Sheikh Saeed in Shindagha, the Al Ahmadieh School Dubai's first educational institution and the ancient Al Fahidi Fort, now home to the recently refurbished Dubai Museum, all other a captivating taste of the cit's past.
A wide range of tours and excursions are available. Among the most popular are safaris into the desert by four wheel drive, combining the excitement of dune driving with a glimpse of bedouin life, a camel farm visit and culminating, perhaps, at a moonlit Arabian barbecue. Dubai's many fine hotel restaurants offer a microcosm of the world's cuisine. The choice is limitless Gulf and Middle Eastern, India, Filipino, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Mexican and much more.
Outside the hotels, Dubai Offers the visitor a gastronomic adventure, with hundreds of small eating places scattered throughout the city. Fast food ranges from several big international chains to shawarma outlets, selling grilled shavings of lamb or chicken, mixed with salad and rolled inside a pocket of Arabic bread. By night, Dubai has something for everyone. Bars and pubs can be found in all top hotels, most of them featuring live music. There are a choice of discotheques and Arabic nightclubs. And Dubai is on the regular circuit for many international stars from the top scene opera, Asian music and even the London theatre.
One of Dubai's greatest attractions for visitors is the superb shopping that one can do in this cosmopolitan city. Being an open port with very low import duties and no taxation, the city offers the bargain hunter unbeatable value for money. Most major brand name products are readily available, and are often less expensive in Dubai than their country or origin. Dubai is the undisputed sports capital of the Middle East, hosting world class international events that attract some of the biggest names in their respective sports, whether in golf, tennis, horse racing, rallying powerboating, rugby or sailing.
Apart from spectator sports, visitors to Dubai can actively participate in a wide variety of land and watersports that include golf, bowling, iceskating, archery, horse riding, scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, water-sking, jet-sking, deep sea fishing and windsurfing. Facilities are excellent, the weather is perfect during the winter months and equipment can be hired at reasonable rates.