New Silk Road to boost Dubai's role as trade hub

Updated: 2015-04-21 09:23


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New Silk Road to boost Dubai's role as trade hub

A general view shows Dubai's cityscape, March 18, 2015. [Photo/IC]

DUBAI - China's Belt and Road initiatives will strengthen Dubai's role as a global hub for trade and logistics, local officials said here on Monday.

"With Dubai being in the geographical center of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, the emirate is poised to expand its role as a trade hub linking Africa with Asia," said Adil Al-Zarooni, the senior vice president of sales at Dubai's free port zone Jebel Ali (Jafza).

He make the remarks at the two-day regional Africa Middle East summit of the international federation of freight forwarders associations (FIATA).

The 57 square kilometers large Jafza tax-free, zero customs free zone harbours over 7,000 firms from 138 countries. Among these firms are 100 of the Fortune 500 companies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping initiated the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road) during his visit to Central and Southeastern Asia in 2013.

On this initiative, Mohsen Ahmad, the vice president of the logistics district at the aerotropolis Dubai World Central (DWC) told Xinhua that many industries from Asia play an important role in relation to conducting trade with and through Dubai.

China surpassed India as Dubai's biggest trade partner in 2014, as Chinese-Dubai trade hit 175 billion dirham (47.70 billion U.S. dollars).

Ahmad said the shift to east also visible in the fact that commercial port capacities in the Middle East North Africa and South Asia grew by nine percent per year from 2004 to 2013, while European sea hubs in same period grew by less than four percent per year.

"If you take traditional strong Asian industries such as textiles, fashion, telecommunication and pharmacy, I am confident Dubai will play a major role in cross-trade in the region, " Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the chairman of the world's third biggest container port operator Dubai Ports (DP) World said in his key note at the FIATA conference.

The International Monetary Fund said that it slashed its growth forecast for the UAE to 3.3 percent for 2015 from 3.5 percent it forecast at the beginning of the year due to slump in oil prices and ongoing turmoil in some Arab countries.