Dubai’s Unique Vision for Holistic Growth & Global Leadership

8th January 2024

A city synonymous with innovation and transformation, Dubai has consistently embraced change throughout its history. From its origins as a small trading port to its current status as a global hub for tourism, trade, and investment, Dubai's ability to reinvent itself has been a driving force in its exceptional journey. Now, as it builds towards its 200th anniversary, the city is embarking on a new chapter with the Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’, a visionary roadmap for the future, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Words Vicky Koffa

D33, launched at the beginning of 2023, unveils an ambitious agenda with far-reaching goals for the next decade. The plan envisions Dubai among the world’s top three economic cities, top three international destinations for tourism and business, top four global financial hubs, and top five leading logistic hubs, among other targets. With 100 transformative projects in the pipeline, Dubai aims to become the most important global business centre by 2033, when it marks the bicentenary of its establishment, doubling its economy and creating a ripe environment for associations to thrive.

In an interview for the Middle East Economy magazine, Hussain Sajwani, founder of Dubai-based real estate developer DAMAC Properties, commented: “As someone who has closely watched and been a part of Dubai’s growth story over many decades, I believe this D33 agenda has no parallel and is set to turbocharge the growth and development of Dubai in ways unimaginable with the new wave of opportunities it will unleash in various sectors. Opportunities abound and goals are set. It is just a matter of time to see Dubai bounding down the road to holistic economic development, sustainable prosperity, and global leadership in key sectors and industries.”

Dubai Economic Agenda Unfolded

The 10 Economic Principles of UAE

  1. Offer of a globally open free-market economy
  2. Attraction of top talent
  3. Investment in the digital economy
  4. Investment in developing and creating opportunities for its youth
  5. Offer of a sustainable and balanced economy
  6. Offer of a strong and stable financial system
  7. Offer of a strong and fair legislative environment
  8. Commitment to the principles of transparency and the rule of law
  9. Support of the business community by a strong banking sector
  10. Offer of the world’s finest transport and logistics infrastructure

Central to the D33 agenda is the theme of economic diversification. While traditional sectors will continue to flourish, the emphasis on future development sectors promises sustainable economic growth and self-sufficiency in key industries, such as technology, education, finance, trade, sustainability, logistics and empowerment of local talent. 

Dubai’s commitment to being a global tech hub by focusing on innovation and future technologies is a significant draw. The ‘Sandbox Dubai’ initiative, designed to incubate business innovation through testing and marketing new products and technologies, will attract tech talents and entrepreneurs and boost digital transformation. It presents an excellent opportunity for associations to engage with cutting-edge advancements while connecting with the brightest minds of the digital and manufacturing sectors. 

Key to the implementation of D33 is expansion and transfer of knowledge and empowerment of the workforce, with particular interest in Dubai’s higher education and human capital development. The plan to integrate 65,000 young Emiratis into the private sector over the next decade demonstrates a commitment to sustainable growth and social development. Moreover, the plan to attract the world’s best universities though the ‘Dubai Project’ is set to upgrade the city’s skilled talent, creating a pool for associations to tap into.

Another interesting aspect of the agenda is the development of a scale-up program to promote the growth of SMEs by identifying 400 companies with high potential and supporting their capacity building and global expansion. This initiative, in combination to ‘Dubai’s Future Economic Corridors 2033’ (a program for new partnerships, particularly with Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia) and doubling the size of Dubai’s foreign trade by adding 400 cities to Dubai’s foreign trade map, open avenues for associations to strengthen international ties and create meaningful partnerships.

Peter Maerevoet, global CFO and regional CEO for Asia at Tradewind Finance, said: “The initiative will also prove to be a major boost for local SMEs, as Dubai plans to launch a scale-up program for 30 companies to become global unicorns in new economic sectors, demonstrating the UAE’s commitment to supporting local SMEs and homegrown businesses.”

“The UAE is also focused on ensuring the sustainability of the country’s economy through advanced legislation, policies that safeguard resource sustainability, environmentally friendly energy sources, and government plans and strategies aimed at preserving our natural resources for future generations,” as mentioned by the Emirates news agency WAM. In light of COP28 taking place in Dubai at the end of 2023, in a recent meeting of the Executive Council, transformative initiatives were approved to stimulate Dubai’s industrial sector, incentivize agricultural technology, and implement policies against single-use plastics.

Economic Principles That Enable D33

Complementing the D33 agenda, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the “Economic Principles of UAE.” These principles serve as a comprehensive roadmap for the country’s economic development, emphasizing a globally open free-market economy, attraction of top talent, investment in the digital economy, and sustainable and balanced economic practices. These principles align with Dubai’s commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment and positioning the UAE as a global economic powerhouse.

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